HEROES Act Would Protect Workers, Alleviate Hunger, Stimulate Economy
Statement of CSPI Policy Director Laura MacCleery
Congress has passed several rounds of coronavirus relief legislation but so much more needs to be done. That is why the Center for Science in the Public Interest strongly supports the HEROES Act, proposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The women and men who serve in essential food supply chain roles in grocery stores, meatpacking facilities, and elsewhere deserve personal protective equipment, enforced social distancing policies, up to two weeks of paid sick leave, and other essential occupational health protections, and the HEROESAct provides it. Despite the remarks of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, slaughterhouses are bringing COVID-19 to workers and communities, not vice versa. Thousands of workers and more than 100 federal food safety inspectors have become infected with COVID-19; at least 53 workers and three inspectors have died of the disease.
The HEROES Act also does more to alleviate hunger and stimulate the economy by expanding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in ways that earlier coronavirus relief packages failed to do. It increases SNAP benefits by 15 percent, raises the minimum monthly benefit, and suspends a series of onerous regulations blocking some Americans from accessing this important program. It also provides funding for school systems, which are struggling to safely provide nutritious meals to kids during the pandemic.
There are things we’d like to see that aren’t in the HEROES Act. But the bill represents our best opportunity to stop the spread of disease, rebuild the economy, protect workers, and alleviate hunger. We urge the House to quickly pass the HEROES Act, and we urge Senators of both parties to recognize the urgency of the moment and to provide this desperately needed relief to the American people.