EUGENE — U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., released the following statement on H.R. 6800, the Heroes Act:
“It’s clear that, as coronavirus has claimed tens of thousands of American lives and cost the American economy tens of millions of jobs, additional relief legislation is urgently needed. While this legislation is not perfect, Congressional Democrats have put forward a bill that will provide robust relief to state and local governments while supporting our frontline healthcare and public service workers.
“This bill provides nearly $1 trillion to state, local and tribal governments who desperately need additional funding to pay the essential workers—healthcare providers, police, firefighters, transit workers, EMS, teachers, and others—who are keeping our communities safe through this crisis. Furthermore, it ensures that essential workers who have been on the front lines throughout this pandemic will receive hazard pay.
“Throughout this crisis, Americans and businesses around the country have depended on a reliable Postal Service, especially customers in rural areas and seniors who count on six-day and door-to-door service for their mail and prescription medications. Unfortunately, the pandemic has threatened the survival of the USPS and placed its vital services for the millions who rely on it at risk. I’m pleased that the Heroes Act includes the $25 billion emergency appropriation that I called for to make up for lost revenues and help keep the agency operational.
“I am in strong support of the safeguards this bill includes for election security, including expanding access to vote-by-mail and early voting. We must ensure that our elections can be carried out safely and securely despite this national crisis. Americans should never be forced to choose between their health and their fundamental right to vote.
“In order to safely re-open our country, we must follow science and medical advice. That’s why I’m pleased this bill includes $75 billion for the widespread testing, contact tracing, and isolation measures that are needed in order to safely re-open our communities while lowering the risk of re-infection.
“I am especially proud that, as Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I authored a provision in the bill that requires flight attendants and passengers on airplanes, and passengers on Amtrak and mass transit to wear masks to reduce the risk of spreading infection.
“Furthermore, I was able to include a provision that adjusts the cost-share for FEMA assistance to 100% paid by the federal government, ensuring that state, local and tribal governments are not saddled with extra bills as their own budgets are hammered by this crisis. When President Trump put FEMA in charge of the federal response to COVID-19, he claimed it was because the responsibility belonged to the federal government—this provision will force him to keep his word and eliminate the non-federal cost share that’s straining state and local budgets.
“The first relief bill put forth by Senate Republicans would have given big corporations billions in handouts—funded by taxpayer dollars—with no accountability or commitment to protecting their workers over their CEOs. I’m proud that Congressional Democrats stood firm and negotiated a bill that put the needs of working families first. Now, as the Republican-controlled Senate continues to stonewall additional relief legislation even as the coronavirus crisis deepens, I am proud that the House has put together this critical aid package to stand up for and protect the lives and livelihoods of the American people.”