Pelosi Remarks on the Introduction of The Heroes Act
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered a statement on the introduction of The Heroes Act, House Democrats’ bold legislation to address the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Good Afternoon.
In February, sadly, we learned of the first known coronavirus death in the United States. Since then, over 80,000 Americans have died and nearly 1.4 million have been infected. 33 million Americans have filed for Unemployment Insurance. We all know these numbers. We face the biggest catastrophe in our nation's history.
Setting aside how we got here, we must approach this tragedy with the deepest humanity as we go into the future. All of our hearts are broken by the loss of life. The number of 33 million Americans who have filed for Unemployment Insurance is almost unimaginable. This is a moment when many millions of our fellow Americans are in deep suffering.
We must have empathy for our heroes, the health care workers, for how exhausted and how stressed they are in doing their jobs. Add to that, they may lose their jobs in this economy. We must also empathize with the pain of families who do not know where their next meals are coming from and how to pay next month's rent.
It is imperative that we address the needs of the American people with clarity on how we proceed. That is why today, House Democrats are introducing The Heroes Act, named for our heroes, whose provisions are largely based on the four previous bipartisan bills we have passed.
The Heroes Act focuses on three pillars: opening our economy safely and soon; honoring our heroes; and, then, putting much-needed money into the pockets of the American people.
We can all agree that we must open our economy as quickly as we can, but we must do so based on science and data. The key to opening the door is testing, tracing, treatment and social distancing. And we must do so in a way that reaches all Americans, in a way that addresses the disparities we have seen, so that we can assess the full extent of the coronavirus and defeat it. Overwhelmingly, the scientific community agrees.
Americans also agree that we owe our heroes in the fight against the coronavirus an enormous debt of gratitude – our health care, first responders, teachers, transit, food, sanitation and other essential workers who risk their lives to save lives and who could now lose their jobs. To do that, we must act boldly to support state and local entities to address coronavirus-related outlays and lost revenue due to the coronavirus.
We all know that we must put more money in the pockets of the American people. This is not only necessary for their survival, but it is also a stimulus to the economy. Direct payments, Unemployment Insurance, rental and mortgage help and food and student loan assistance, among other things, are essential to relieve the fear that many families are facing.
The Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank has told us to ‘Think Big’ because interest rates are so low. The low interest rate and the prospect of access to credit has bolstered the stock market. We intend to use those interest rates to bolster the American people.
We must ‘Think Big’ For The People now because if we don't, it will cost more in lives and livelihood later. Not acting is the most expensive course. We are presenting a plan to do what is necessary to deal with the coronavirus crisis and make sure we can get the country back to work and school safely. We have a goal. We have benchmarks. And we have the science to succeed.
In this critical moment for our country, we must demonstrate a clear strategy of testing, tracing and treatment. Again, we must honor our heroes with the coronavirus crisis with support, not just words. We must address the pain of families who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
I'm proud of the Chairs of our committees of jurisdiction for their work on all five bills. We must all take an extra moment to understand the numbers we are seeing, which are the most overwhelming in our lifetimes. These numbers require action that we've never had to take before.
There are those who said, ‘Let's just pause.’ But the families who are suffering know that hunger doesn't take a pause. Rent doesn't take a pause. Bills don't take a pause. The hardship of losing a job or tragically losing a loved one doesn't take a pause. This is an historic challenge and, therefore, a momentous opportunity for us to meet the needs of the American people to save their lives, their livelihoods and our democracy.
Four hundred years ago, the great poet John Donne wrote: ‘No man is an island, entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main… Each man's death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.’
America’s heart is full of love; and our tradition is one of optimism and hope. Let us pray for those who are affected, let us pray for a cure and a vaccine and let us pray to God to continue to bless America.