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Tonko Delivers in COVID-19 Crisis Response Bill

New House-passed relief bill includes Tonko-led measures to support hospitals, expand mental health research and treatment, insulate public health research & information from political interference and deliver $1.3 billion for Capital Region

“These first-responders and essential workers have kept our communities going under challenging circumstances, and they need to know we have their backs. Our legislation delivers that assurance and puts our region and nation on a more solid footing to weather this storm.”

WASHINGTON—Congressman Paul D. Tonko voted with the majority of House members tonight to pass The Heroes Act, new COVID-19 crisis relief legislation that includes several major legislative achievements resulting directly from Rep. Tonko’s work on the bill as well as more than $1.3 billion in crisis-response aid to New York’s Capital Region. His efforts respond in large part to a profound sense of urgency expressed eloquently and repeatedly by essential workers in his home district.

“My colleagues and I have moved quickly to respond to this crisis once more, marshaling needed assistance to help our communities manage the challenging circumstances they now face including significant funding to scale up testing and treatment, support small businesses, workers and families, and in particular get needed aid directly to local officials to make sure we can keep our firefighters, teachers, nurses and other essential workers on the job at this critical time,” said Tonko. “These first-responders and essential workers have kept our communities going under challenging circumstances, and they need to know we have their backs. Our legislation delivers that assurance and puts our region and nation on a more solid footing to weather this storm.”

Some of the signature Tonko measures in the bill include:

  • Supporting local hospitals by boosting payments to Capital Region hospitals over the next three years that will help strengthen our local health care infrastructure and offset COVID-related expenses.
  • Protections for households facing possible water, gas, or electricity shutoff, ensuring Americans don't lose essential utility services due to inability to pay during this national crisis.
  • The Scientific Integrity Act, legislation that insulates public science and scientists from political meddling or retaliation, which is crucial to accurately inform the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tonko has worked on this legislation starting in 2016 and garnered significant bipartisan support including numerous Republican cosponsors when it was passed by the full House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
  • The COVID-19 Mental Health Research Act, legislation that would provide $200 million to fund research to study the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the mental health of Americans, and in particular, front line health care providers.
  • The Medicaid Reentry Act, legislation that allows states to activate Medicaid coverage for individuals transitioning out of incarceration 30 days prior to release, which will help to finance care for COVID-related early releases while improving transitions to community care for those struggling with mental health and substance use disorder.  

The Heroes Act also includes a number of vital provisions to help America’s struggling families and communities. Among other things, the Heroes Act:

  1. Provides strong support for our heroes by establishing a $200 billion Heroes’ fund to ensure that essential workers across the country receive hazard pay.  
  2. Commits another $75 billion for the testing, tracing and treatment we need in order to have a science-based path to safely reopen our country and helping ensure that every American can access free coronavirus treatment.
  3. Puts money in the pockets of workers with a second round of direct payments to families up to $6,000 per household, new payroll protection measures to keep 60 million workers connected with their jobs and extending weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January.
  4. Supports small businesses by strengthening the Payroll Protection Program to ensure that it reaches underserved communities, nonprofits of all sizes and types and responds flexibly to small businesses by providing $10 billion for COVID-19 emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
  5. Investing billions in New York State through primary and higher education, community health centers, emergency services, hospitals and other health providers, Medicaid services, highway infrastructure, biomedical research and much more.
  6. Eliminates the harmful State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction limitation for Tax Years 2020 and 2021

House passage of the Heroes Act sends it to the Senate for review.  

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