Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, gave the following floor statement in support of the updated Heroes Act:
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the House Amendment to H.R. 925, the updated version of the Heroes Act.
Mr. Speaker, Democrats have been working every single day to respond to this pandemic and provide much-needed relief and protections for families across the country. 139 days ago, House Democrats voted to pass the Heroes Act. Unfortunately, President Trump, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans have blocked the bill, and prevented the essential relief the legislation provides from reaching our neighborhoods and our communities.
Meanwhile, the nation continues to suffer during this crisis. Even before this pandemic, over half a million people in the United States were experiencing homeless, including more than 50,000 families with children. It is likely that this number has grown significantly due to the pandemic. We also continue to head toward a catastrophic eviction crisis, as families struggle to pay rent and months of unpaid back rent pile up. Today, the rent is due but an estimated 14.2 million renter households cannot pay it and are at risk of eviction and homelessness. In my state of California, there are 1.7 million renter households who are behind on rent and facing eviction. At the same time, more than 8 million homeowners, including almost 780,000 homeowners in California, have already fallen behind on their mortgage payments. Making matters worse, over 1 million small businesses have closed.
To address the ongoing crisis, the updated Heroes Act creates a $50 billion emergency rental assistance fund and a $21 billion homeowner assistance fund, and provides $5 billion in funding for homeless services providers.
Through no fault of their own, millions of people are also unable to make payments on credit cards, car loans, and their mortgages or rent. By suspending negative credit reporting during the COVID-19 period, the Heroes Act ensures that these innocent consumers do not suffer further damage.
The Heroes Act also suspends debt collection for consumers, small businesses, and nonprofits during the pandemic. Additionally, private student loan borrowers in economic distress, who are disproportionately people of color, will get up to $10,000 in debt relief under the bill.
The nation continues to face shortages of essential medical supplies and equipment. For example, our heroic health care workers are still reusing N95 respirator masks at a time when cases of COVID-19 continue to rise. The Heroes Act strengthens the Defense Production Act to supercharge the production of these supplies and works to ensure that funds are directed to alleviate these shortages.
The updated Heroes Act also builds upon my efforts and those of Members of my Committee to remove barriers for Community Development Financial Institutions, that is the CDFIs, and Minority Depository Institutions, better known as MDIs, trying to serve low and moderate-income communities during the pandemic. For example, the bill provides $15 billion in capital and other assistance for CDFIs and MDIs to bolster financing activities in minority communities, which have been hardest hit by this pandemic.
I’m so pleased that the bill provides another round of stimulus payments for families, additional funding for small businesses, including $120 billion for restaurants and airport concessionaires.
And importantly, the bill directs the Treasury Secretary to work with the global community to immediately provide $2 trillion in relief through the International Monetary Fund, which will immediately support developing countries that are experiencing some of the worst effects of COVID-19.
Mr. Speaker, this bill isn’t everything that is needed, but it is a good faith effort to bridge the gap in negotiations with our Republican colleagues. It’s time for Republicans to stop blocking coronavirus relief and support this legislation.