WASHINGTON—A bipartisan bill spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla., was included in legislation passed by the House today, called the HEROES Act, which is Congress’s latest effort to combat COVID-19. Murphy’s measure would enhance the employee retention tax credit (ERTC), which incentivizes businesses of all sizes to retain their employees in active or furloughed status, rather than laying them off, so they continue to receive a paycheck, employer-sponsored health insurance, and other benefits.
Murphy was the first Member of Congress to propose the ERTC as a powerful tool to address the economic and employment crisis caused by COVID-19, and she worked in a bipartisan manner to include the provision in the CARES Act, which became law in late March. Since then, Murphy has focused on expanding the ERTC to help more workers and businesses. It is estimated that her bill to enhance the ERTC will help 6.1 million businesses keep 60 million workers tethered to their jobs.
“I’m proud my initiative to help millions of workers and businesses was included in the HEROES Act. This was the result of painstaking negotiations with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who agree Congress needs to advance big, bold, and bipartisan proposals to support workers, businesses, and our economy,” said Murphy. “Now that the House has approved my bill, I will work with the Senate and the Trump Administration to enact this measure, because only legislation that becomes law helps the American people.”
More information on the Murphy-led bill included in the HEROES Act can be found here.
The HEROES Act also includes two other Murphy-led initiatives:
- Murphy led the successful effort, as part of an earlier bill enacted by Congress, to provide up to 10 weeks of federally-paid leave for parents who must stay home from work to care for their children whose school or child care center has closed. Murphy has since worked to expand the workers eligible for paid leave to cover workers who are sick or quarantined, or caring for a family member who is sick or quarantined, and the HEROES Act includes this expansion.
- As Chair of Future Forum, Murphy spearheaded a successful caucus effort alongside Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) to allow dependents ages 17 to 18, college students under age 24, and permanently disabled children of all ages to be considered as qualifying dependents for purposes of economic impact payment eligibility—and the Murphy-Craig effort is reflected in the HEROES Act. This provision, which would apply both prospectively and retroactively, ensures families will receive assistance to care for dependent children who were excluded from the first round of economic impact payments authorized by the CARES Act.
Other key provisions in the Heroes Act include:
- Direct help to workers and families: a second round of direct payments of up to $6,000 per household and an extension of weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through January 2021.
- Testing, tracing and treatment: $75 billion to craft a science-based path to safely reopen our country and ensure every American has access to free coronavirus treatment.
- Help for front-line heroes: nearly $1 trillion for state and local governments that need funds to pay health care workers, police, fire, transportation, EMS, teachers and other vital workers who keep us safe and are in danger of losing their jobs. The Heroes Act also will establish a $200 billion “Heroes’ Fund” so essential workers receive hazard pay.
- Support for small businesses: strengthens the Payroll Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs to ensure they are sufficiently funded and provide relief in an equitable manner.
- Housing security: $175 billion to help families meet monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments and other housing-related costs.
- Food security: a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs that help families put food on the table.
- Election security: additional funding for states to ensure the 2020 election cycle is safe and secure.
“The HEROES Act honors those on the front lines of this crisis, like health care workers and first responders, by providing much-needed assistance to our state and local governments. The bill also provides another round of payments to American families who are still suffering from this economic crisis. Congress must continue to work together to help our country recover from this virus and its devastating effects on our economy,” added Murphy.