Ways and Means Democrats Lead the Effort to Support Workers and Families During the COVID-19 Crisis

May 12, 2020
Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Democrats introduced the Heroes Act, legislation that features unprecedented Ways and Means provisions to protect workers and uplift families during the COVID-19 crisis.
“People across our nation are hurting, and Congress must take extraordinary, immediate action to provide them with relief,” said Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA). “Families are feeling the pain of a terrible one-two punch – a national public health emergency coupled with a historic economic downturn. The gravity of our new reality demands substantial solutions, and that’s what Ways and Means Democrats offer in this latest response package.”
Key Ways and Means measures include:
Income and benefits security
• Policy enhancements that encourage employers to keep employees on payroll, allowing an additional 60 million American workers to maintain critical lifelines and remain connected to their jobs, paychecks, and benefits during the crisis
    o Of those workers who will benefit from the more robust employee retention tax credit, 40 million are employees of small businesses.
    o Preventing layoffs and keeping employees tied to their employers also provides relief to states’ overwhelmed unemployment programs.
Bigger, better economic impact payments
• A more substantial, second round of economic impact payments to provide relief to Americans who are struggling
    o Each family member will receive a $1,200 payment – up to $6,000 per household. 
    o This legislation fixes shortcomings with the initial round of payments, ensuring that recipients now include college students, non-child dependents, and Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) filers.
Critical supports for the unemployed
• An extension of the groundbreaking, weekly $600 federal unemployment compensation payments and unemployment benefits for self-employed and gig workers through January 31, 2021, as well as the continuation of important supports for state unemployment offices to ensure that workers receive their benefits
    o With more than 33 million new jobless claims since the virus gripped our nation and an unemployment rate of 14.7 percent, greater resources must be devoted to helping the scores of newly out-of-work Americans.
Child and family care for essential workers
• Fast, flexible funding to support child care – and adult day care for adults incapable of self-care – for essential workers on the job during this crisis
    o Many Americans are making tremendous sacrifices to serve others during these perilous times; folks like health workers, grocery store workers, and sanitation and public safety workers need this assistance to keep their families afloat while they help our communities.
Fairness in the tax code for families and workers
• Historic expansions to tax credits that provide targeted relief to workers and families
    o These provisions make childless workers eligible for the earned income tax credit (EITC) and expand refundability of the child tax credit (CTC) so that a greater number of low-income families can benefit.
    o The Ways and Means proposal also doubles the child and dependent care tax credit (CDCTC).
Emergency assistance for vulnerable children, families, and individuals
• Uses existing pathways to get resources to people in need quickly, including those who may not be receiving other assistance provided during the pandemic
    o This aid would help ensure that vulnerable populations can maintain access to the essentials during the emergency, like housing, diapers, internet service, soap, and food. State and local governments and local non-profits would have the flexibility to provide direct disaster relief through cash, non-cash, and in-kind benefits.
    o Funds would be administered by state, county, local, and tribal governments, as well as community-based organizations that work with disadvantaged individuals and families.
Strengthened retirement security
• The stabilization of pensions for more than 1 million Americans who participate in multiemployer plans that are more rapidly approaching insolvency due to the COVID-19 crisis
    o Without action, these plans will threaten to bankrupt the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), shutter thousands of businesses, and devastate communities across the country.
A section-by-section summary of the legislation is available HERE.
Full text of the Heroes Act can be found HERE.