A new month is here and the second stimulus package is currently being discussed in the halls of Congress, with Senate Republicans rushing to put together the HEALS Act — likely the final piece of legislation designed for widespread economic relief amid the coronavirus pandemic. This past May, the House of Representatives had passed the HEROES Act, which was intended for the same purpose, but differs greatly from the HEALS Act.
Despite making it out of the Democrat-controlled House, it wasn't exactly a secret that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had no intention of bringing it to a vote, often criticizing it as a left-wing wishlist. However, that refusal has meant that the Republican-controlled Senate was left with three weeks to compile and pass a new stimulus package ahead of Congress' upcoming Aug. 7 recess. While there is some overlap between what the HEROES Act would have provided and what the HEALS Act is proposing, there are quite a few differences as well. Not to mention some aspects that the HEROES Act had not addressed, or the CARES Act before it.
CNET has provided a rundown of what the HEALS Act is offering, as well as how it stacks up with the HEROES Act. Although it's possible that as deliberations continue, the two could overlap more.
The HEALS Act was given a "starting point" budget of $1 trillion earlier in July by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, making it less than half of the $2.2 million CARES Act. By comparison, the HEROES Act would've cost a total of $3 trillion — which was part of the reason it had little chance in the Senate.prevnext
The one aspect of common ground between the HEALS and HEROES Act is the amount dolled out to individuals, which is $1,200. The big difference is dependents, with the HEALS Act providing $500 for any dependent, regardless of age. The HEROES Act would've provided $1,200 for each dependent, though it would've only allowed three total to be claimed. President Donald Trump has also mused over the idea that the next check could be more than $1,200, which does echo an earlier promise he'd made.prevnext
The HEROES Act would've extended the CARES Act's $600 a week unemployment benefits, which will expire on July 31. The HEALS Act will replace that with $200 a week, then eventually up to $500 a week, up to 70 percent of someone's income. Although it will take several months before that system to be in place in every state.prevnext
Return to Work Bonus
Neither the CARES nor the HEROES Acts had any incentive to return to work (or start a new job), whereas the HEALS Act would have a bonus of up to $450 per week for unemployed workers who secure a new job or are rehired at their old one.prevnext
Paycheck Protection Program Loans
The HEALS Act will put another $190 billion into the Paycheck Protection Program fund, as well as expand eligibility and even allow businesses to request a second loan. It also eliminates the CARES Act's provision of a 75 percent payroll requirement and allows for more uses of funds to qualify for loan forgiveness. The HEROES Act would have done much of the same, although it would have extended eligibility through the end of 2020.prevnext
As the pressure to reopen schools has been amped up by both the Trump administration and now Bill Gates, the HEALS Act provides $70 billion to K-12 that open for in-person classes. There's also $29 billion for higher education, $1 billion to Bureau of Indian Education, plus another $5 billion state discretion. The HEROES Act would've allotted $58 billion for grades K-12 and $42 billion for higher education.prevnext
One of the most sharply-contested aspects of the HEALS Acts by Democrats is a proposed five-year liability protection for businesses and schools, meaning anyone who contracts COVID-19 wouldn't be able to pursue legal action. Democrats see it as a means for these places to shirk safety protocols.prevnext