HEROES Act Means Local Education Options, Food Access, Hazard Pay for Essential Workers; HEALS Act Limits Local School Options, Adds Unrelated Spending, Gives a Free Lunch for Donors

BISMARCK, ND — Senate Republicans released the HEALS Act this week after letting the HEROES Act, passed by the House, sit un-debated or discussed for 10 weeks. The last-minute HEALS Act, supported by both North Dakota Senators, however, included $1.8 billion for a new FBI building that has nothing to do with pandemic relief. It also doubles the three-martini-lunch deduction for business meals, while eliminating food programs that would serve those in the greatest need. Food insecurity is rising across North Dakota. HEALS also leaves out hazard pay for essential workers, would slash the unemployment benefit offered to those out of work because of the pandemic, and ignores local governments.

The HEROES Act would award hazard pay for essential workers, bolster emergency food programs, provide much needed aid to city, county, and state governments, and offer resources for local school districts to open up with flexibility. By tying education funds to in-person mandates, the HEALS Act would use most of these dollars to take control away from our communities and from North Dakota.

The Democratic-NPL Party Chairwoman Kylie Oversen said:

“North Dakotans have stated clearly, we want to make decisions at the state and local level about how we open up our schools less than a month from now. The HEROES Act would offer not only resources for our students, teachers, and staff, but also support for childcare. Cases are rising, and North Dakotans need a program that works for us. We urge our congressional delegation to stop playing partisan politics with our lives and livelihoods.”

Oversen continued:

“Rather than award hazard pay to essential workers and bolster unemployment plans that keep people paying their rent, our Senators are backing a bill that includes $1.8 billion for a Washington office building and a free lunch for their donors. Workers and families are going hungry. They are out of work, and those that are still working are underappreciated and woefully under-protected. Our delegation needs to set aside their partisanship, their donor interests, and focus on dealing with an out of control public health crisis and an economy they watched crash.”