NWLC Applauds House Passage of Updated HEROES Act

(Washington, D.C.) Six months after the last pack package to support women and families struggling under the coronavirus pandemic was signed into law, the House of Representatives passed an updated version of The HEROES Act, first passed last May.

The following is a statement from Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center:

“This bill is a major step towards finally recognizing the pain and loss facing women in this country, whose lives have been transformed, if not destroyed, by five months of dithering and delay from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“But in order for this relief to reach the American people, McConnell must set aside his partisan and corrupt attempt to rush a nomination to the Supreme Court. Public health experts are warning the long winter before us will be a tragic one, filled with more layoffs, more evictions, more hungry children, and more death. The Senate must put the lives of the American people above a partisan and morally bankrupt nomination process and take immediate and swift action to vote on this life-saving package. A Supreme Court vacancy will wait; Winter will not.”

The $2.2 trillion package includes:

  • Economic Impact Payments of $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 per dependent.
  • $57B child care funding
  • $50B emergency rental assistance through February
  • 12-month eviction moratorium
  • $400m for WIC, flexibility to triple WIC produce purchases, and pressure on USDA to move toward online purchasing for WIC shoppers.
  • Fixes to emergency paid leave & paid sick days that were in original HEROES, with a sunset of February 2021 (instead of December 2021 to save $)
  • Boosts SNAP maximum benefit through FY 2021, include PR and American Samoa; minimum monthly benefit to $30 for 1 & 2-person households; suspends time limits; increases funding for administrative assistance; excludes PUA from SNAP benefit eligibility calculation
  • 7.8% Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) increase until September 30, 2021
  • 10% increase for home and community-based services

Between February and April, women lost over 12.1 million jobs, only half of which have returned since. Black women and Latinas continue to be hard hit by the jobs crisis. While the overall unemployment rate dropped to 8.4% in August, approximately 1 in 8 Black women and 1 in 10 Latinas remained unemployed.

According to an NWLC analysis of data from the US Census Bureau, more than half of people are in a household where someone had lost employment income since March. More than 1 in 8 people reported that, over the last 7 days, they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat. More than 1 in 4 missed last month’s rent or mortgage payment or aren’t sure they will be able to make next month’s payment on time.

These conditions were worse among women of color. More than half of Black non-Hispanic women, Asian non-Hispanic women, and Latinas reported a loss of income since March, compared to 45.1% of white, non-Hispanic men and 46.0% of white non-Hispanic women. More than 1 in 5 Black non-Hispanic women and Latinas reported not having enough food in the past week, making them three times more likely than white non-Hispanic men to report experiencing food scarcity. More than 2 in 5 Black non-Hispanic women and Latinas reported facing housing insecurity, compared to 15.4% of white non-Hispanic men.