The House of Representatives has passed a bill for the second stimulus check for American taxpayers, and many are eager for developments. However, the HEROES Act has a long way to go before it becomes law and checks can be distributed. There are some substantial obstacles in its way as well.
Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi introduced the HEROES Act to Congress on Tuesday, May 12, and it was passed on Friday, May 15, as lawmakers rush to get aid to Americans who need it. The bill would now need to be passed in the Senate and then signed by President Donald Trump to go into effect. It would be the fifth coronavirus relief bill overall, and the second to include a stimulus check sent directly to the American people. Once again, the one-time check would be worth up to $1,200.
Still, lawmakers on both sides have some issues with the HEROES Act, which may impede its path to passing. A Republican majority leads the U.S. Senate, and lawmakers there have said that they would prefer to wait a bit longer and see how the last round of stimulus checks impacts the economy before passing another. Meanwhile, the president has changed his tune on this issue a few times, favoring payroll tax cuts over stimulus checks but saying that he would sign another stimulus bill if it came his way.
On the other hand, some Democrats say that Pelosi's bill does not go far enough. Sen. Bernie Sanders said that $1,200 per person "doesn't cut it" for the economic stress Americans are facing. His proposal suggested payments of up to $2,000 per month for at least a year (or until this crisis is over).
There are plenty of other issues to consider with the HEROES Act, including some that seem in place as bargaining chips. Here's a breakdown of the factors that will impact when another stimulus check is coming your way, if ever.
CARES Act Background
BREAKING: The House just passed the #HeroesAct to fund:
💰Cash payments to families
👩⚕️Hazard pay for essential workers
🏥Money for testing & tracing
💼Stronger unemployment benefits
🥫Expanded food assistance
🏠Rent & mortgage relief
The Senate must pass this bill immediately.— Rep. Diana DeGette (@RepDianaDeGette) May 16, 2020
To recap the last round of stimulus checks, they were approved in March under the CARES Act — the fourth coronavirus relief bill passed by the U.S. government. It provided funding for stimulus checks and tasked the IRS with distributing them by the same means it distributed tax refunds in recent years. While that process had some flaws, it would likely go more smoothly this time around since it has already been done once before.
HEROES Act Comparison
I just voted YES on the Heroes Act to:
☑️Put more money in your pocket.
☑️Extend unemployment benefits.
☑️Provide hazard pay for front line workers.
☑️Increase help to small businesses.
☑️Support states, cities, and schools.
The American people need help. Now.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) May 16, 2020
While the HEROES Act advocates for similar payments distributed with similar rules, it has a few key changes as well. Under this bill, dependent adults would be eligible for the payments, as would immigrants without social security numbers. Other gaps in the system would be filled as well, with provisions ensuring that people on Social Security or disability benefits would get their payment automatically. However, it has certain limitations as well, including a new rule stating that no household could receive more than $6,000 in stimulus payments, regardless of the number of children it has.
House Democrats’ huge new bill would cut taxes for blue-state millionaires, send government checks to illegal immigrants, and — wait for it — mandate two separate taxpayer-funded studies of diversity in the cannabis industry. This is their effort at coronavirus relief?— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) May 14, 2020
The HEROES Act is a huge bill at over 1,800 pages, and some of the items within are highly controversial. These include legislation for the cannabis industry in states where it is legal, economic research grants, funding for the National Endowment of the Arts and a handful of other things that opponents to the bill have focused on.
In some cases, these items make an easy target for detractors to rage against, since they seem to be only tangentially related to the crisis at hand. However, some analysts speculate that that may be intentional, as it provides some bargaining chips for Democrats to compromise with when the negotiations begin.
Business Insider columnist David Plotz argued that the Senate Republicans must pass some version of the HEROES Act eventually, as a stabilized economy gives them the best chance of being re-elected. To do so, they may have to remove some of the provisions that they are currently calling partisan.
In Favor of Second Stimulus
Testing. Treatment. Isolation.
Science shows us that is the path to overcoming this virus.
And it is that plan which is at the heart of the #HeroesAct.May 17, 2020
Regardless of the issues some have with the HEROES Act, the argument in favor of some kind of new stimulus bill is strong, and it has a huge amount of support. With unemployment rates sky high, the House of Representatives agreed that a new bill was needed to "[cushion] the economic blow of the coronavirus crisis."
Proponents say that another stimulus check will ease the burden on unemployed Americans and those who are impacted in other ways as well. It may also allow some people to continue social distancing without fear of losing their housing, food or other essential needs. Public health experts still say that ongoing social distancing is the most important factor in minimizing coronavirus deaths and keeping the health care infrastructure from collapsing.
Finally, in an op-ed for Business Insider, economist Daniel Alpert made the case that big federal spending gives the U.S. economy the best chance of surviving the coronavirus pandemic, and will allow it to recover as quickly as possible. While some lawmakers support reopening public spaces before they meet public health officials' criteria, Alpert argues that this will harm the economy in the long-term with a surge in cases, while a big stimulus check could have a better lasting impact, as it gives lawmakers a chance to "re-shape the economy" for the better.
Against Second Stimulus
Here are five of her most radical proposals ⤵️— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) May 16, 2020
Opponents of a second stimulus check often cite fears that it will create an incentive for people to stay home rather than go to work, causing lasting damage to the economy. They are especially concerned about the HEROES Act's provisions for unemployment insurance — a factor that may have to change for it to be passed.
According to Plotz, some Republicans have been voicing concerns about the growing deficit as well, though this may be a strategic move. He points out that Republicans are typically "concerned about deficits when a Democrat is president, but rarely show the same concern when a Republican is, so it's surprising that they'd get frugal under President Trump."
Plotz makes the case that Republicans are opposing the bill to save face, but that they know they will have to approve it eventually. The only question is how much negotiation lawmakers will allow while American taxpayers wait eagerly for their payment.
The House has been at home for two months. They gave themselves no assignments except developing this proposal. Yet it still reads like the Speaker of the House pasted together random ideas from her most liberal members and slapped the word “coronavirus” on top of it. pic.twitter.com/pS0EwP5wo5— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) May 15, 2020
Since the House passed the HEROES Act on Friday, the bill now goes on to the Senate. According to the Wall Street Journal, "negotiations with Senate Republicans aren't expected to start until later this month at the earliest," so the stimulus check is on hold for now.
Some analysts believe that the Senate will ignore the HEROES Act to focus on developing their own, according to a report by CBS News. This would likely be done in collaboration with the White House. Either way, if the Senate and the House can agree on one of those bills, it would then need to be signed by Trump, who seems generally in favor of passing a stimulus bill quickly.
People should not have to risk their lives and endanger their families to have income in a pandemic. One $1,200 check is not enough. We must ensure every person in this country receives $2,000 a month for the duration of this crisis.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 18, 2020
Finally, it is worth remember that alternate proposals for stimulus bills are still making the rounds, even if they are becoming less likely since the HEROES Act was passed. In the House, other bills like the Emergency Money for the People Act would have provided up to $2,000 per month for at least six months for individual Americans. That bill had 28 cosponsors before Pelosi's was introduced. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington even voted against the HEROES Act, saying it did not do enough.0comments
Similarly, Sen. Bernie Sanders' proposal is technically still on the table in the Senate, calling for a smiliar system of stimulus checks. Competing proposals from Republicans exist as well, with one from Rep. Josh Hawley proposing a huge payroll tax rebate to encourage employers to keep workers employed throughout this crisis, even if they are not working.
I believe we can and must choose differently. That's why I voted no. I believe we must put forward a package that:— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) May 16, 2020
🔵Gets paychecks back to workers
🔵Ensures everyone has health care
🔵Helps all businesses to survive this crisis
🔵Protects the rights of workers to get pensions
For the latest information on your stimulus check, visit the IRS' Get My Payment website. For the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic itself, visit the websites of the CDC and the World Health Organization.