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The House Passes the Updated HEROES Act

Stephanie Darrell

The House Passes the Updated HEROES Act

Marble
| 5 min
5 Min

Back in May, at the height of the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Democrats (who currently control the House of Representatives) passed a coronavirus relief bill known as the HEROES Act. However, the original HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act failed to pass in the Republican-controlled Senate.

According to Republicans, at almost $3 trillion, the cost of the stimulus bill was far too high. The Senate also opposed the bill's proposal to continue the additional $600 weekly unemployment benefits beyond the July deadline. Since then, Americans have witnessed back and forth negotiations between the House of Representative and Trump’s administration on the HEROES Act. Essentially, hard negotiations along party lines.

With the recent unveiling of a revised HEROES Act by the House Democrats, there seems to be an agreement on the stimulus bill. The updated HEROES Act is the House of Representatives sixth piece of legislation in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the popular Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  

What is in the Updated HEROES Act?

The revised HEROES Acts is a scaled-back version of the original stimulus bill that the House had passed in May. The revised bill's cost is $2.2 trillion, a reduction of around $1 trillion of the original cost. Some changes include new features, additional provisions, discarded provisions, and significant budget cuts for some provisions. Some of the provisions in the updated HEROES Act include;

  • Extension of weekly unemployment benefits – extending the additional $600 weekly unemployment benefits was one of the contentious aspects of the original HEROES Acts. The provision, which was initially in the CARES Act, was to run until July 2020. However, in the original HEROES Act, House Democrats proposed for its extension until January 2021. Despite Republican opposition, the provision is still in the updated HEROES Act. Essentially, the revised stimulus bill proposes for the bringing back of the extra $600 weekly unemployment benefits.
  • Another round of stimulus checks – the updated relief package provides a second round of $1200 stimulus payment to qualifying Americans. Even though it would be a second round of the stimulus payments, the revised bill has some new features, including changing who is eligible for the payments as a dependent. The proposed coronavirus relief package includes $500 checks for adult and minor dependents. Essentially, the updated HEROES Acts scraps age as an eligibility criterion.
  • Other notable provisions in the revised HEROES Acts include emergency aid for state and local governments and support for education and childcare needs. Some provisions were not part of the original HEROES Act, including support for the airline industry and the restaurant industry's support.

Some of the provisions that were in the original Act but are not in the revised bill include hazard pay for essential services workers, including those in health care and other risky fields. The updated HEROES Act also proposes significant cuts on provisions like hospital and housing rental assistance and the homeowner assistance fund.

Conclusion

Despite a slowdown in the spread of coronavirus and the reopening of the economy, many Americans remain jobless hence the need for another stimulus package. The updated HEROES Act restores programs that have been crucial in helping Americans deal with the economic challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, including the extra $600 weekly unemployment benefits. While the Senate can pass the updated HEROES Act before the November 3 elections, their partisan approach may derail the stimulus bill yet again. However, with ongoing negotiations between the House leadership and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, there is hope that the two parties will agree.



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