Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, announced Friday the House of Representatives approved the Heroes Act, the fourth emergency bill directed at addressing the resources and relief needed by to communities battling COVID-19.
The broad legislative package includes funding for health care, protections for workers, support for schools and small businesses impacted by the outbreak, resources to address food insecurity and other needs for those out of work, and direct funding for state and local governments.
With passage complete in the House of Representatives, action by the Senate is now necessary to proceed with the delivery of this COVID-19 emergency funding.
The bill includes $500 billion for states and $375 billion for local governments, with Erie County and Niagara County municipalities estimated to receive in excess of $2.2 billion over the next two years. Higgins welcomed swift action to support state and local governments who are leading the response, saying (video), “While the nation is under a public health emergency, state and local governments have undertaken the monumental task of continuing and expanding essential services to our residents. Health departments are testing, tracing and working to protect communities. Schools are delivering meals and helping students learn at a distance. Under new threats to their own health and safety police, firefighters and sanitation workers continue serving the public.
“During national disasters the federal government has consistently provided needed relief to state and local governments dealing with the response. Today’s public health emergency should be no different.”
Higgins also hailed the $4.75 billion included in the Heroes Act to support expanded coronavirus research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He recently announced a pandemic preparedness bill and pushed for investments in vaccine and treatment research, noting COVID-19 represents the third coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. over the past 17 years.
Higgins said, “The coronavirus is not new. We have experienced three coronavirus-related outbreaks over the last two decades – SARS, MERS and now COVID-19. Unless or until there is an effective treatment or vaccine, coronavirus will continue to cost our country both in terms of widespread economic loss and tragically, in lives lost.”
To access Higgins’ full remarks on research funding included in the Heroes Act, go to: https://youtu.be/gaG-eC_Qbh0.
For additional details on the Heroes Act, including further information on funding for Western New York, visit Higgins’ website at: https://higgins.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/higgins-releases-details-on-the-heroes-act.