The House of Representatives passed the massive $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill on Friday evening. This new bill, called the HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solution) Act, promises hazard pay for frontline healthcare workers, aid to state and local governments, stimulus checks to all, student loan relief, and more.
Even though the bill has passed the House, it still has a long way to go to become law. To become law, the bill needs to pass both the House and the Senate and then be signed by the president. The new coronavirus stimulus bill passed the House with 208 to 199 votes. Fourteen Democrats opposed the bill, while one Republican supported it.
The Democratic-run House of Representatives may have approved the bill, but it won’t be easy to get the approval of the Senate. Senate leadership has already referred to the bill as “dead on arrival.” The president has also suggested that he will oppose the bill.
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However, CNBC reported on Thursday that the White House might support another round of direct payments, citing two Trump administration officials. Moreover, there is still some time before the Senate returns to Washington, possibly sometime next month. Thus, Democrats have time to gather support for the bill. Analysts are hopeful as well.
“We expect that negotiations over a finalized version of the Phase 4 bill will take at least until the end of May,” Height Capital Markets analysts said in a note, according to MarketWatch. “We expect a final package to come together successfully but note that passage will likely be delayed into June.”
Many public sector labor unions expressed support for the bill, which gives special considerations to employees and contractors in the form of hazard pay.
Will it become law?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also indicated that the Senate will pass further coronavirus stimulus bills.
“I think there’s a high likelihood we’ll do another bill, and I’ve just indicated what we’ll need to be a part of any bill that actually gets a presidential signature and is brought up and passed by a Republican majority in the Senate,” McConnell told Fox News on Thursday.
However, McConnell has stressed moving slowly on the next legislation and that he would work with the White House to determine what is needed and how soon. Moreover, he has been critical of the HEROES Act.
It “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,” McConnell said on the Senate floor on Thursday.
In a letter sent to House members on Thursday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Republicans had given their support previously to many priorities that are included in this new coronavirus stimulus bill.
“It is important to note that more than 80 percent of the priorities in the Heroes Act have been supported by the Republicans in the four previous COVID-19 acts of Congress,” Pelosi wrote.
Further, in a news conference on Thursday afternoon, Pelosi noted that Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell also recently discussed approving further economic relief immediately.
What does the HEROES Act offer?
The HEROES Act, if passed, would follow last month’s $484 billion measure, which is referred to as “Phase 3.5.” The other three official coronavirus packages announced so far are an $8 billion measure finalized in early March, an estimated $192 billion package in mid-March, and the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which was passed in late March.
This new coronavirus stimulus bill, which is over 1,800 pages long, was unveiled on May 12. The bill promises $1 trillion to state and local governments and $200 billion in hazard pay to frontline workers. Additionally, the bill would extend the expanded unemployment benefits, which are scheduled to end on July 30 under the CARES Act, through January 2021.
Further, it would extend the eligibility of gig workers, freelancers, independent contractors and others to receive unemployment benefits through March 2021. The CARES Act extended their eligibility until the year’s end.
If the new coronavirus stimulus bill is passed, there will be a second round of stimulus payments as well. The bill promises checks of up to $1,200 per person or $2,400 for married couples. Additionally, the bill assures $1,200 per dependent child and for adult dependents. Each household can claim payments for up to three dependents.
Other benefits that the HEROES Act offers include creating funds for coronavirus testing, renter and homeowner assistance, SNAP benefits, protection for small businesses, student loan relief, and more.