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Case Lauds House Passage of Fifth COVID-19 Emergency Measure

He says continued national crisis requires continued strong national leadership. Bill would target billions of additional emergency assistance to Hawai‘i.

Washington, May 15, 2020

(Honolulu, HI) – U.S. Congressman Ed Case (Hawai‘i – District 1) today called the vote in the United State House of Representatives to pass the proposed Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, the fifth and broadest emergency assistance measure since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and crisis, “an urgent, critical and indispensable next step for our country to navigate through the worst of the pandemic to stability and recovery”.

“This is an ongoing national crisis requiring even greater national leadership,” said Case. “Indeed, our national government is the only entity with the resources and means to assist with the sheer volume and diversity of continued needs across our country.”

“From our state and local governments with crippling revenue shortfalls, our health and first responder front-liners, teachers and other essential workers, our small businesses and their employees, our social safety net and the community organizations that maintain it, and our seniors and unemployed, to so many other of our fellow citizens and ‘ohana in desperate need, the HEROES Act embraces our responsibility.

“Though the Senate majority and White House have expressed reservations with the measure, this is where I and a majority of my House colleagues believe we must go next. And I would ask those that disagree these two basic questions. Are you willing to take a chance with the public health, economy and safety net of our country? Do you believe we will be better or worse off if we do not continue to act nationally and boldly?”

As passed by the House, the HEROES Act would direct major additional assistance to Hawai‘i that can be used by state and county governments to fund COVID-19 response efforts and replace lost revenue. The following estimates for Hawai‘i are based on the formula in the measure:

  • Coronavirus State Fiscal Relief Funds (State of Hawaii)
    Fiscal Year (FY) 2020            $1.670 billion
    FY 2021                                 $1.727 billion

    Total:                                      $3.387 billion
  • Coronavirus Local Fiscal Relief Funds (Counties)
    FY 2020                                 $954 million
    FY 2021                                 $477 million

    Total:                                      $1.431 billion

“These funds could pay healthcare workers, police, fire, transportation, EMS, teachers and other vital workers who keep us safe while putting their own health and well-being at risk,” said Case. “The measure would also lift the current restriction in the previous CARES Act we enacted March 27th against use of emergency assistance funds for pre-budgeted revenue shortfalls.”  Case said the HEROES Act would also provide $90 billion to support education, of which the State of Hawai‘i would receive a currently projected $303 million.

“This much-needed federal assistance for our schools would provide further funding for a wide range of urgent needs including support for summer learning, afterschool programs, distance learning and emergency financial aid for college students, as well as coordination with the public health officials to mitigate the spread of the disease,” said Case.

Case especially noted that the HEROES Act would direct emergency funding specifically to Native Hawaiians who did not receive targeted CARES Act funding to tribal governments because they are not federally recognized, including:

  • The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund

    The HEROES Act provides that no less than $25,000,000 shall be for financial assistance, technical assistance, and training and outreach programs designed to benefit Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native communities;

  • Primary Health Care

    The HEROES Act provides for $7,600,000,000 for necessary expenses to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, for grants and cooperative agreements for Community Health Centers. Native Hawaiian Health Centers will be eligible for this funding including maintenance or expansion of health center and system capacity and system capacity and staffing levels.
  • Testing

    The HEROES Act provides that Native Hawaiians organizations can be an eligible entity to track, including contact tracing to effectively monitor and suppress COVID-19.

  • State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (Education)

    The HEROES Act includes funding for K-12 schools. This money could support a large variety of services under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and the Native Hawaiian Education Program. To receive this funding, any school district "shall to the greatest extent practicable, continue to pay its employees and contractors during the period of any disruptions or closures related to coronavirus.”

Case said the HEROES Act would also extend eligibility to non-profit organizations regardless of type or size to apply for assistance under the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). If signed into law, the Act would enable those organized under the Internal Revenue Code as 501(c) entities, such as Chambers of Commerce and real estate boards, to apply for PPP loans as long as they certify that they do not have access to other capital as a result of COVID-19.

In addition, Case said the HEROES Act would provide a projected $29,801,884 in an election assistance grant to the State of Hawaii to  fund early voting, vote-by-mail, and prepaid postage requirements;  conduct other pre-election and election day preparations for the 2020 elections; hire and recruit additional poll workers, PPE for poll workers, and sanitization of polling places; and enhance security measures pre- and post-election to ensure the resilience of elections, cybersecurity of voter registration databases, and post-election audits.

“HEROES would further provide transformative, far-reaching support to protect the lives and livelihoods of the American people and the life of our democracy”, said Case. He highlighted the following:

  • Provides strong support for our heroes by establishing a $200 billion Heroes’ Fund to ensure that essential workers across the country receive hazard pay.  
  • Commits another $75 billion for the testing, tracing and treatment needed for a science-based path to safely reopen our country and help ensure that every American can access free coronavirus treatment.
  • Puts money in the pockets of workers with a second round of direct payments to families up to $6,000 per household, new payroll protection measures to keep 60 million workers connected with their jobs and extended weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January.
  • Supports small businesses by strengthening the PPP to ensure that it reaches underserved communities, nonprofits of all sizes and types and responds flexibly to small businesses by providing $10 billion for COVID-19 emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
  • Ensures further support for all Americans, including for:
    •  Health security – with COBRA subsidies and a special enrollment period in the Affordable Care Act exchanges for those without insurance.
    • Workplace security – requiring Occupational Safety and Health Administration to ensure that all workplaces develop science-based infection control plans and preventing employers from retaliating against workers who report problems.
    • Housing security – with $175 billion in new supports to assist renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments and other housing-related costs.
    • Food security – with a 15 percent increase to the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs that help families put food on the table.  

Case especially highlighted the HEROES Act’s proposed $25 billion in emergency assistance to the U.S. Postal Service, which has been especially hard-hit by the COVID-19 crisis. “USPS is critical to our communities across our country and Hawai’i, especially our rural areas,” said Case.

“In this time of great dislocation and risk in the security of our election systems, when we are relying on election by mail to choose our leaders fairly and credibly, it would be especially foolish to shortchange USPS and take a chance on its service and very survival.”

“We cannot somehow hit pause while so many in our communities are struggling so deeply,” said Case. “We have a responsibility to do what is necessary now to protect the health and well-being of all.  With HEROES, the U.S. House honors the service and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes and meets the continued needs of the American people today and through this pandemic and crisis.” 

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