- House Democrats passed the HEROES Act Friday, but it’s not expected to be taken up in the GOP-controlled Senate.
- Without more funding for states, police officers, teachers, and firefighters will face layoffs, Democrats have warned.
- The CARES Act contains another round of $1,200 stimulus checks and would give essential workers a $25,000 pay boost.
- Senate Republicans say it’s too soon to think about the next relief bill but want to pass liability protections for employers.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
House Democrats on Friday night passed a sweeping, $3 trillion coronavirus rescue package.
The bill, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or the HEROES Act, spans 1,815 pages and won’t become law. Instead, its passage was meant for Democrats to demonstrate their priorities and signal what they will fight for in a later bipartisan bill that could pass in June.
Senate Republicans told Business Insider they think more time should pass before they take up another relief bill so they can analyze the holes in funding from the other four relief packages they’ve already passed. President Donald Trump signed a $484 billion coronavirus aid bill in late April. The $2 trillion relief bill, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, became law in late March.
The HEROES Act won’t be taken up for a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate and Trump has called it “dead on arrival.” Speaking Thursday night on “Special Report” with Fox News’ Bret Baier, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the House legislation a “liberal wish list” that “strikes me as hardly salvageable.”
Instead of a funding package, McConnell is preparing a bill to shield employers from federal lawsuits if their customers or workers become sick from the coronavirus. While Democrats have said they are concerned about such changes, they might be willing to negotiate a deal to get some of their provisions from the HEROES Act to Trump’s desk.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office published a 71-page summary of the bill, which you can read here. Her office didn’t work with the White House to craft the bill and instead encouraged members to “think big” for the legislation.
“Families know that hunger doesn’t take a pause, not having a job doesn’t take a pause, not being able to pay the rent doesn’t take a pause,” Pelosi said during her weekly press conference Thursday about the need to pass another relief bill soon. “The hardship of it all, losing a loved one or having someone in your family sick, it just doesn’t take a pause.”
Below are some of the provisions that were included in the bill:
Nearly $1 trillion for states and local governments
The HEROES Act would set aside $500 billion for states, which are losing out on revenue during the coronavirus lockdowns and also expending more money to fight the virus.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer previously acknowledged the sum was “an awful lot of money” but said it was “essential” to halt layoffs of police, firefighters, nurses, and teachers. The bill would set aside another $375 billion for cities and other local governments and $20 billion to help territories.
Washington, DC, would receive $755 million. When $150 billion in funds were sent to states under the CARES Act, the capital was treated as a US territory, rather than a state. As a result, it received about $700,000. In contrast, states on average received about $1.2 billion each, Hoyer said.
Democrats want to rescue the US Postal Service with $25 billion in funding. Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, who chairs the committee that oversees the Postal Service, said that without the funding, the agency wouldn’t be able to survive beyond a few months.
The HEROES Act would provide an extra $15 million for the Office of the Postal Service Inspector General for oversight of the funding.
Healthcare providers have already received $175 billion through other relief bills but have said the money won’t be enough. The HEROES Act would add another $100 billion for hospitals and medical practices. The sum would go toward both recouping money they spent to fight the coronavirus and making up for the dollars they lost from putting off other medical procedures.
The bill would allow $75 billion to go toward testing and tracing people who may have been infected with the virus, adding to the $25 billion already allocated under previous legislation. The Trump administration would need to come up with a national testing plan and put out an awareness campaign on testing.
More money for people, housing, and food stamps
Under the bill, people would get another $1,200 in relief checks for single filers and $2,400 for joint filers, similar to what they got under the CARES Act.
In addition, people who are laid off would get $600 extra in unemployment benefits a week through January 31. The benefits are set to expire on July 31.
Democrats would increase funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps low-income people buy food, by $10 billion.
The bill would also put aside $100 billion to provide emergency assistance to help low-income renters at risk of homelessness avoid eviction because of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The HEROES Act would set up a special enrollment period for people who don’t have health insurance to sign up for private coverage via Healthcare.gov, where millions of people will get government help paying their premiums. People who lost their jobs in recent months are already eligible to sign up for the coverage, but the change from Democrats would allow others who were already uninsured to enroll.
The bill would open a second opportunity for people to get health-insurance coverage by having the government for nine months subsidize the health insurance people used to get through work. Typically, laid-off workers have to pay the full cost for these plans — under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act — on their own, but the HEROES Act would have the government pick up the full cost of premiums.
The HEROES Act would provide $3.6 billion for grants to states for contingency planning, preparation, and resilience of elections, according to a document prepared by Democratic staff on the House Appropriations Committee.
The legislation would also have states set up voting by mail in the November elections so that states could either move to only mail voting or make it easier for people to vote through absentee ballots. Democrats have said this setup would help keep people safe if the US is still in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic at that time.
The CARES Act included $400 million for states to shore up their elections, a sum Democrats say is inadequate.
Democrats want to boost pay for people who are unable to do their jobs from home during the pandemic, including healthcare workers, grocery-store workers, and federal employees.
The bill allocates $200 billion for hazard pay and cites the legislation Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer put forward in April. It would allow frontline workers to get as much as a $25,000 raise through the end of 2020. The amount is equivalent to giving the workers an additional $13 an hour for continuing to work during the pandemic.
$90 billion to help schools and colleges
The bill would set up $90 billion in grants that states can use to help schools with costs, including the cost of mental-health services, cleaning, buying additional technology, and emergency planning. States could also help colleges recoup money they’ve lost or help professors learn the new technology they need to use to teach remotely.