On Friday, May 15, 2020, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) voted for the HEROES Act, which would send over $13 billion in relief to Michigan in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, including over $15 million for Livingston County.
“I did so because, after carefully examining the 1,800 pages of the bill, I believe there is more positive for my state and my district than negative,” Slotkin said. “And while I strongly prefer a more bipartisan bill, I voted yes because, on net, this bill provides important money for local governments, for individuals, and for basic services we all depend on.
The HEROES Act includes four bills Slotkin introduced as part of the Made in America Medical Supply Chain Initiative, bills she said are “first steps” to bring the medical supply chain back to the U.S., reduce U.S. dependence on China, and free frontline health providers (“and now every citizen who wants to get back to work” from dependence on foreign factories and middlemen to get necessary equipment.
“That said, the bill also included provisions that don’t respond directly to the crisis, and shouldn’t have been included,” Slotkin said. “I seriously considered voting against the bill to indicate my frustration with those provisions, but in the end, I could’nt turn a blind eye to the vital pieces that our hard-hit state needs.”
Slotkin hopes the bills is swiftly taken up by the Senate.
“I expect that those problematic provisions will not survive first contact. The onus is now on the Senate to act. Just as we took up their draft in early April and came to a swift bipartisan bill, I expect the same of them,” Slotkin said. “As Fed Chair Jerome Powell said this week in urging Congress to act, ‘Additional fiscal support could be costly, but worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery.’ My constituents need Congress to act, swiftly, to avoid that long-term damage and secure a stronger recovery.”
The HEROES Act, as passed by the House, would:
Help save our state and towns from massive layoffs, and even bankruptcy:
• More than $13.4 billion in aid to the state of Michigan over two years, to prevent devastating layoffs of teachers, first responders, health and sanitation workers and other critical personnel.
• Direct funding to local governments, to cover lost revenues from COVID-19 over the next two years. Under this bill, funding includes:
— $107 million for Livingston County
— $164 million for Ingham County
— $731 million for Oakland County
— $146 million for Lansing
— $35 million for East Lansing
— $3.7 million for Brighton
— $4.7 million for Howell
— $36.8 million for Rochester Hills
• As requested by so many firefighters and police, this bill provides $1.1 billion more in FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG), Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) and Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG) grants and, importantly, waives the cost-sharing requirements usually required by local governments.
• In addition, Michigan would receive an estimated $115.4 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, to provide states and local governments with additional flexible resources to mitigate and address the health and economic impacts of COVID-19
Give more flexibility to small businesses:
• Improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program sought specifically by 8th District small businesses, including by extending from 8 to 24 weeks the period that businesses have to spend the funds in order to have their loan forgiven; and by increasing flexibility on what the PPP funds can be used for.
• Expands the PPP program to make nonprofits of all types and sizes now eligible.
• Includes $10 billion more for the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) grant program, which offers up to $10,000 in cash advances for immediate relief to small businesses and eligible nonprofits.
Put more money into testing so we can get back to work:
• Provides $76 billion dollars for additional testing and contact tracing that are vital components of any plan to reopen the U.S. economy, and a requirement for an updated national strategic plan on COVID-19 testing that includes specific benchmarks and clear timelines. It also requires each state to produce a searchable website for citizens to find local testing sites.
Expand cash in peoples’ pockets:
• Issues a second round of $1,200 direct payments to support working families.
• Fixes a problem with the previous round of economic impact payments that left out some older dependents, such as high school and college students and those on disability. Now, parents of children with dependents over 18 (in particular, many college students across the district) will also get an additional $500 per dependent, not just for dependents under 18.
• Hazard pay for essential workers who have been working on the frontlines throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
Start the process of bringing our medical supply chain back to the U.S.
• Includes four provisions from Slotkin’s Made in America Medical Supply Chain Initiative, bipartisan legislation she has introduced to reduce America’s dependence on China and other foreign sources of critical medical supplies and equipment. Those provisions would:
— Require that contents of the Strategic National Stockpile of medical supplies and equipment are in good working order and regularly maintained.
— Require a report to Congress on every request sent to the Strategic National Stockpile and details on the outcome of every request.
— Require development of clear, transparent guidelines on how to request items from the stockpile and for future communications with the states.
— Require a Government Accountability Office study on the feasibility of charging user fees for certain items that are distributed from the stockpile and later sold.
Provide funding for vital services and to exercise our rights:
• $1.5 billion to expand broadband internet access, an important provision for rural areas of the 8th District. This money will go to help schools and libraries to purchase internet connectivity, hotspots and “connected devices” like tablets for students to facilitate remote learning throughout the length of the public health emergency.
• Funding to address lost revenue at the U.S. Postal Service to ensure it can continue serving Americans.
• $3.6 billion for grants to states to ensure they can hold safe federal elections, including for vote-by-mail, so that voters do not have to choose between their personal safety and exercising their democratic rights.
Help Michigan’s farmers:
• Significant support for farmers, including emergency assistance to farmers forced to euthanize livestock during the crisis, direct donation programs to ensure commodities such as milk don’t have to be dumped, and $100 million in assistance to specialty crop growers such as Michigan cherry and apple producers.
Give options to those who may lose their healthcare:
• This bill creates a special, two-month enrollment period for newly-uninsured to enroll in coverage through the Affordable Care Act.