Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (1st District of Maine)
Pingree Votes to Approve Urgently Needed $2.2 Trillion COVID Relief Package to Support Mainers
New Pandemic Response Bill Strengthens Support for Small Businesses, Renews Weekly Federal Unemployment Payments Through January 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today voted to approve an updated version of The Heroes Act, the bipartisan COVID-19 relief package passed by the US House in May. The compromise bill, which passed tonight by a vote of 214-to-207, provides desperately needed help to schools, small businesses, restaurants, performance spaces, and local governments.
“While the original Heroes Act stalled in the US Senate, thousands of people in Maine have grappled with job loss and food insecurity or faced eviction. Without federal relief, municipalities have had to make painful cuts to services and too many small businesses were forced to close their doors forever,” said Congresswoman Pingree. “It is my sincere hope that the McConnell Senate will vote on this updated version of the Heroes Act because any further delay will worsen the economic catastrophe facing communities throughout Maine. For the well-being of our constituents the Senate needs to finally meet the House halfway and agree to pass this compromise relief bill.”
“Our updated Heroes Act will renew federal unemployment payments through next January and provide a second stimulus check. Our bill will also address rising hunger rates and provide rental and homeowner assistance to help Mainers meet their most basic needs during this economic crisis,” Pingree continued.
“Every small business is unique, and Maine entrepreneurs have said a one-size-fits-all loan program alone won’t save them. Consequently, our Heroes Act 2.0 is not just a single Paycheck Protection Plan redux. I am proud that this bill includes targeted assistance for our struggling restaurant industry and independent live venue operators. Maine’s food and cultural sectors should not be left behind simply because they were following public health protocols,” said Pingree, an original cosponsor of the Restaurants Act and Save our Stages Act.
Highlights of the updated Heroes 2.0 Act include:
- $436 billion in state and local funding, including an estimated $820 million for the state of Maine and $779 million for Maine localities.
- $75 billion in funding to further national and state testing and contact tracing initiatives and $50 billion in funding for providers to keep their doors open
- New and targeted assistance for small businesses, including:
- a second round of PPP loans and EIDL grants for impacted businesses
- The RESTAURANTS Act, including $120 billion in grants for restaurants and other food service businesses. Pingree is a co-sponsor of the standalone bill.
- The Save Our Stages Act, including $10 billion in grants for independent live venue operators. Pingree is a co-sponsor of the standalone bill.
- Extended Pandemic Unemployment benefits through January 2021
- A second round of stimulus checks ($1,200 per adult and $500 per dependent), including expanded eligibility for adult dependents and full-time students under age 24 as well as taxpayers with Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs)
- $225 billion in support for education, including for K-12 schools, higher education institutions, and early childhood education providers
- A 15% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and additional funding and flexibility in other anti-hunger programs
- $3 billion for emergency broadband needs and $50/household broadband benefit for households with a laid-off or furloughed worker
- $50 billion for emergency rental assistance and provisions preventing utility shutoffs
- $250 million for Fishery Disaster Assistance to provide direct relief to tribal, subsistence, commercial, and charter fishery participants
- $350 million for the Local Agriculture Market Program, known as LAMP, along with provisions from the RAMP-UP Act, of which Pingree is a cosponsor, to support small meat and poultry processors and alleviate bottlenecks in the food supply chain.
- $15 billion to preserve the U.S. Postal Service
- $3.6 billion for administering elections that are safe, fair, and secure during the pandemic.
On May 15, Pingree voted to approve the original Heroes Act, a $3 trillion comprehensive, bipartisan COVID-19 recovery package. Even after pandemic unemployment insurance ran out and municipalities were forced to make difficult cuts, the US Senate refused to vote on the Heroes Act or negotiate a compromise package. The US Senate has not passed a comprehensive COVID-19 relief bill since March.