Congressman Al Green Commends House Passage of HEROES Act

May 15, 2020

(Washington, D.C.) – On Friday, May 15, 2020, Congressman Al Green voted in support of the most recent coronavirus relief legislation – H.R. 6800, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. He released the following statement:          

“Today, I proudly voted ‘yes’ in the House of Representatives, supporting the HEROES Act. This legislation is the fifth tranche of coronavirus relief, which will help to defeat coronavirus in the United States by providing funding for state, local, territorial, and tribal governments, as well as essential workers, additional stimulus checks, small businesses and nonprofits, healthcare coverage, extended unemployment benefits, food security, and housing assistance,” Congressman Green said, announcing the passage of H.R. 6800 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The HEROES Act enacts critical provisions advanced by Congressman Al Green to provide urgently needed relief for those persons most impacted by the pandemic.

“Local governments have been hard hit by this national emergency, suffering dramatic decreases in sales tax revenue. Previous coronavirus relief measures have only appropriated funding for larger cities like Houston, but I have consistently fought to ensure that all areas of my congressional district and our nation receive the financial protections necessary to keep them afloat during such a tumultuous time. The HEROES Act offers a State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund that would include provisions for the larger and smaller municipalities in the Ninth Congressional District of Texas that I am proud to represent in Congress.”

“The HEROES Act contains provisions for foreign medical professionals, hospital relief, small business owners, the postal service, fair housing, as well as relief for small banks and businesses – all of which I have advocated for on behalf of my constituents. Specifically, I have written several letters to congressional leadership as well as governmental agency leaders regarding various relief measures pertinent to individuals and industries across our nation.” Congressman Green has written several letters since the President declared a national coronavirus emergency in mid-March. The CARES Act and HEROES Act include measures advocated by the Congressman in a series of letter requests.

“On March 24, 2020, I led a bipartisan letter to House leadership calling for specific relief measures for children’s hospitals across the United States. Some of the requested provisions were included in the CARES Act, and the HEROES Act would increase Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) payments to state Medicaid programs and prevent the Secretary of Health and Human Services from finalizing the Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation (MFAR) until the COVID-19 public health emergency ends. On April 7, 2020, I wrote to Secretary Pompeo regarding expedited visas for international medical graduates and doctors to relieve the shortage of medical workers caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The HEROES Act would temporarily ease certain immigration-related restrictions for eligible individuals.”

“On April 15, 2020, I co-led a letter to Speaker Pelosi to allow law enforcement, fire officials, and EMS to continue using T-Band spectrum to operate their radios for day-to-day life-saving operations. The HEROES Act does just that. On May 4, 2020, I wrote to House leadership regarding specific needs for USPS. Among those were $25 billion in direct appropriations, which is included in the HEROES Act. Long before and since the onset of this pandemic, I have consistently advocated for relief for small minority depository institutions (MDIs) and community development financial institutions (CDFIs). The HEROES Act includes $2 billion in grant funding for financial and technical assistance for CDFIs and MDIs and ensures that these neighborhood lenders can access the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on behalf of their underbanked clients.”

Throughout this unprecedented crisis, Congressman Green has also introduced legislation reflected in the HEROES Act. He added, “Minority communities did not experience the same recovery as other parts of the country since the recession, and now are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, from both a medical and economic perspective. Significant federal investment is required to sustain the viability and economic resilience of local minority owned businesses that are the economic drivers and employers in many of our neighborhoods. Therefore, I am pleased that the HEROES Act will ensure fairness for smaller businesses and ‘mom-and-pop shops’ in accessing PPP loans by requiring 25% of existing PPP funds to go to businesses with 10 or fewer employees. This provision is consistent with my bill – H.R. 6818 – which sets funding aside specifically for smaller businesses. For similar reasons, yesterday I introduced H.R. 6868, a bill that will establish the Minority Business Development Agency and provide $60 million to bolster the economic resilience of minority owned businesses.”

“In addition, I introduced H.R. 6760, calling for funding for fair housing enforcement during the pandemic. The HEROES Act offers $14 million for this purpose to ensure individuals are protected against housing-related hate crimes and increasing forms of housing discrimination due to the coronavirus crisis.”

The HEROES Act also contains provisions for testing and tracing as well as food assistance. Congressman Green has hosted and participated in several events in his congressional district that have served vulnerable communities that these provisions would help the most.

“The Sunnyside neighborhood, located in my congressional district, has been hard hit by coronavirus. A low-income, predominantly African American community, this neighborhood has the second highest rate of coronavirus cases in the City of Houston and Harris County, Texas. I have written letters and participated in a House Committee on Homeland Security panel conversation to emphasize the importance of coronavirus testing and contact tracing in communities like Sunnyside across our nation. The HEROES Act provides $75 billion for testing and contact tracing. I have also hosted and attended several food distributions in my congressional district to help address one of the most basic needs of my constituents during this pandemic. On April 16, 2020, I wrote to FEMA requesting food procurement assistance for Texas food banks. The HEROES Act includes more than $14 billion in food assistance provisions that will benefit food banks and hungry people across our nation.”

The Houston-area Congressman concluded by saying, “I and my colleagues in Congress are diligent in our pursuit of solutions to combat and ultimately conquer coronavirus in the United States. Government was designed to serve the people, and the HEROES Act is but one example of the 116th Congress seeking to answer that clarion call. We must continue to work across the aisle and in both chambers of Congress until we have stopped the spread of COVID-19, decreased fatalities, flattened the curve, and restored our economy.