Vermont Business Magazine Representative Peter Welch (D-Vermont) voted for the updated Heroes Act passed by the House late on Thursday night to deliver much needed coronavirus relief to communities across America. The updated Heroes Act was trimmed to $2.2 trillion from the more than $3 trillion bill passed in May in an attempt to engage Senate Republicans to pass a compromise aid package. The bill includes more than $800 million for Vermont state and local governments. It would also issue a second round of $1,200 payments to individuals and restores the $600 weekly federal unemployment payments through January.
Senate Republicans have continued to block passage of the original bill.
“For months, Democrats have demanded that our response to this devastating pandemic be big and bold to rise to the unprecedented challenge in front of us,” said Welch. “The economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic is still being felt across our state. Vermont businesses needed help in May, and they need it even more today. In addition to critical help for families and individuals struggling to make ends meet, this bill includes important small business provisions that I championed to help some of the hardest hit small businesses, like restaurants and independent venues, stay afloat. Senator McConnell should get off the sidelines and work with House Democrats to get this bill to the President’s desk immediately.”
Two key initiatives championed by Welch throughout the summer were included in the updated Heroes Act. The RESTAURANTS Act, introduced by Welch and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) would create a $120 billion grant program exclusively for restaurants to cover the difference between 2019 revenues and projected revenues through 2020. The bill also includes a Welch sponsored bill to create a $10 billion fund for independent theaters and live music venues. These bill are designed to help small businesses that could not receive aid through the Paycheck Protection Program passed by the House this spring.
In addition, the updated Heroes Act (H.R. 925) includes:
- A second round of $1,200 economic impact payments to individuals.
- Restores the $600 weekly federal unemployment payments through January.
- $12 billion to make sure that students have broadband so that they can learn at home.
- More than $800 million for Vermont state and local governments.
- $225 billion for K-12 schools and colleges to open and operate safely during the pandemic.
- $2 billion for state and local health departments responding to the pandemic.
- $75 billion for testing, contract tracing and other efforts to monitor and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
- A 15% increase in the maximum SNAP benefit, known as 3SquaresVt in Vermont, to help hungry families.
- $400 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to help hungry mothers and children.
- $500 million to buy liquid milk from farmers to be donated to food banks.
- $350 million to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to ensure continued inspections of agricultural products in order to keep pests and diseases from entering the U.S.
- $15 billion for the United States Postal Service to continue operating fully and effectively.
- $3.6 billion in election security grants to states.
Source: WASHINGTON – Representative Peter Welch 10.2.2020