New Mexico’s First Congressional District
Last week, House Democrats came to the table with a bill that would give another critical round of stimulus payments to families and individuals across the country; support for Tribal, state, and local governments; assistance for small businesses, teachers and airline workers; and important funding for testing and contact tracing. We’re in a public health emergency and an economic crisis because this president lied to the American people about the severity of this crisis. Now in a single tweet, he walked away from providing the American people the relief by shutting down negotiations.
This pandemic has impacted every facet of our lives – from simple things like going grocery shopping, attending school and work, accessing health care, participating in our democracy and everything in between. This massive crisis calls for comprehensive solutions and far-reaching relief we included in the updated version of Heroes Act. House Democrats take this seriously. We know that there are families across the country facing eviction; children who can’t do their homework because they don’t have access to broadband internet; small businesses facing the decision to furlough employees or shutter their doors forever; and essential workers risking their lives every day to keep our communities safe and moving forward. Our bill is for them. Our bill is for the people.
Perhaps the most disappointing part of this debacle is that this latest move from the president, and the months of inaction from Senate Republicans, reveal where their priorities lie. As soon as Justice Ginsburg passed away, they jumped at the opportunity to begin the process of appointing a new U.S. Supreme Court justice, yet they wasted months by failing to act on a stimulus package House Democrats passed in May. Subsequently, House Democrats made the first move to the table with a revised compromise bill that helps bridge gaps across the aisle. Rather than offering relief, the president walked away, halting all negotiations until after the election.
People in this country are hurting now and can’t wait for relief. The rent was due on October 1st, but Trump and Senate Republicans allowed the $600 additional unemployment benefits to lapse and stopped at one round of stimulus payments, leaving hundreds of thousands of families with tough decisions: Can we afford groceries or utilities? How are we going to pay for a place to live? The revised Heroes Act renews those unemployment benefits and moves another round of $1200 stimulus checks for each individual and $500 for dependents. People need this relief now.
Tribes across the country are facing deadlines to use CARES Act funding, even though the Treasury Department delayed distribution of those funds and millions of dollars have been held up in court. The updated Heroes Act adjusts deadlines so that Native communities can use funding for what they were meant for. Additionally, the Indian Health Service would receive a critically needed $2.3 billion in the bill.
State, local, and Tribal governments are facing budget shortfalls because of lost revenues. This bill makes sure that public safety, fire departments, trash pick up, and the services those entities provide aren’t interrupted by ensuring that the CARES Act and HEROES Act can be used to make up for lost revenue.
House Democrats know that small businesses are struggling and facing uncertainty as they enter the final months of the year. The Heroes Act improves the Paycheck Protection Program to serve the smallest businesses and struggling nonprofits, providing hard-hit businesses with second loans and delivering targeted assistance for the struggling restaurant industry, airline workers and live theater, music, and art venues.
People in our country are in a fight for their lives and livelihoods, yet the president chose to ignore their cries for help and walk away.
Families, businesses, and our communities need relief now, not after the election.
Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, represents New Mexico’s First Congressional District.