Second Stimulus: Chuck Schumer Calls for Congress to Pass HEROES Act Amid Partisan Deadlock

Nearly four months after it was first introduced, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling for the HEROES Act to be passed "immediately." His call for the bill’s approval, made on Twitter on Labor Day, comes as negotiations on the next stimulus relief bill remain deadlocked despite the unemployment rate remaining at 8.4%.

Introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in May and backed by her Democratic colleagues, the HEROES Act, a more than $3 trillion proposal, was a broad sweeping bill targeting several issues brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The bill sought to provide $75 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing implementation, as well as free coronavirus treatment, things that many believe to be critical in slowing the spread of the virus. It also sought to extend the $600 enhanced unemployment benefit first approved under the CARES Act that officially expired on July 31. The HEROES Act also provided eviction protection, funding for nutrition and food assistance programs, and a second round of stimulus checks.

Pelosi said that the bill would "make a tremendous difference not only in the budgets in the states but in the lives of the American people" and called on members of Congress to "come together and give them a real signal that we care by allocating the resources to meet their needs." The HEROES Act went on to be approved by a 208-199 in the House of Representatives, though it was stalled in the Senate by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has refused to bring it to the floor for a vote.

Schumer is not the only one calling for the HEROES Act to be brought to a vote in the Senate, though. Over the past several weeks, Pelosi has repeatedly called for action to be taken on the bill, reminding Americans Sunday that it had been 114 days since it was passed in the House and made its way to McConnell's desk. Speaking with MSNBC, Pelosi said the legislation "addresses many of the came challenges that America's working families face," including food insecurity and trouble paying rent. She also pointed out that since the HEROES Act was passed in the House, "the number of people who have died has doubled," suggesting that at least some of those deaths could have been prevented had McConnell not "pressed paused."

Despite these calls, there seems to be an extremely slim chance that McConnell will heed them. Instead, Senate Republicans are focusing on revealing and voting on another stimulus package this week. This package will reportedly have a price tag of just $500 billion and will reportedly not include a second round of stimulus payments. It has already been criticized by Democrats, including Schumer, who called the bill "emaciated" and claimed it showed Republicans were "moving even further in the wrong direction" in a letter to his Democratic colleagues last week.