May 15, 2020

Congresswoman Lee Votes Yes on Heroes, Urges Further Action on Poverty

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee released the following statement after House Democrats voted to pass H.R. 6800, the Heroes Act.

“We are facing the worst health and economic crises in our lifetime. But for many, this crisis is nothing new.

“Communities of color are facing elevated and disproportionate rates of infection and death. Heroic frontline and essential workers are often paid poverty wages without personal protective equipment. Struggling small and minority-owned businesses are prevented from accessing the help they need. And millions of unemployed are being pushed into poverty.  

“This pandemic has shone a light on the systemic racism, inequality, and poverty endemic throughout the country. As members of Congress, we must fight for those who bear the brunt of this pandemic – not big corporations. 

“This bill gets help to the communities hit the hardest, with a $75 billion investment in testing, contact tracing, and treatment in the highest impacted areas. It also allows community-based organizations to hire and train trusted workers from these communities who are culturally and linguistically competent to do this work. 

“We are also making critical investments in our strained safety net that Republicans have spent decades trying to gut. This bill expands SNAP to feed hungry families, provides funding for our unsheltered population, and gets help to formerly incarcerated individuals seeking a second chance.

“However, I am very disappointed that we did not include Congresswoman Jayapal’s Paycheck Guarantee Act. Every worker and family deserves the stability of a paycheck and healthcare until this emergency is over, and Congress should be embracing this new, cost-effective approach. I thank Congresswoman Jayapal for bringing this proposal forth, and I hope that we will be able to bring this important bill to a vote soon. 

“We all want to get back to normal. But as we strive to return to normal, let’s challenge ourselves to rethink what we accept as ‘normal’ in America – as the Reverend Doctor William Barber, Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign said, ‘this moral crisis is coming to a head as the coronavirus pandemic lays bare America’s deep injustices.’ In order for us to keep striving to achieve that more perfect union, we must use this opportunity to show that we will no longer tolerate a pandemic of poverty, inequalities, and structural racism to persist.”

You can watch Rep. Lee’s floor statement here.

The text of The Heroes Act, H.R. 6800, is here. A one-pager on the legislation is here. A section-by-section summary is here. A resource on the state and local relief provisions is here.