Democrats in the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act back in May, but it has since withered on the Senate floor as negotiations with Republicans and the White House have repeatedly proven unfruitful. Now, as the election nears and as millions remain unemployed amid an uncannily resilient pandemic, House Democrats have released a revised relief package. Still called the HEROES Act, the new bill is closer to $2 trillion in cost, as opposed to the $3 trillion price tag of the initial attempt. Here’s what to know.
$1,200 checks are back, and more inclusive
One of the most popular pieces of the first coronavirus aid package were individual $1,200 payments that went out to eligible Americans. The updated bill includes another relief payment, but has revised the pool of Americans who can receive them, allowing even more people to become eligible.
For one, full-time students under the age of 24, whose families claim them as dependents, will be eligible for a $500 payment. Moreover, the bill will allow anyone with a tax identification number to request a payment, unlike the earlier program, which only allowed those with a social security number to receive the benefit. Additionally, unlike the first round of checks, those with post-due child support payments will not be excluded from the program. And the Treasury Department will be compelled by the bill to reach out to those individuals who do not typically file taxes to make them aware of their eligibility for the payment.
The new bill includes several items of interest to both political parties. Among them, funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, child care, enhanced federal unemployment payments, stimulus checks, and airline industry funding. Bill Hoagland, senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center and a former Senate staffer, says that the bulk of the package has bipartisan appeal.
“If it was just those items,” Hoagland said of the above list, “I would say it could potentially move the needle.” But the price of the package is still a concern. At $2.2 trillion, it is far above the $1 trillion hardline Republicans previously agreed to. For that reason, Hoagland says he remains “skeptical that it’s going to somehow result in quick action on a package.”