In this video, I provide a quick summary of the HEROES Act, a new $3 trillion stimulus package aimed to provide additional assistance and reliefs to individuals, businesses, and government entities. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives on Friday. Also, I talk about the second stimulus check and other keys provisions of the new stimulus package, including student loan forgiveness and housing assistance.
Friday evening the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, a massive $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill. Let’s look at the most important provisions of the bill.
Extension of Enhanced Unemployment Benefits
The HEROES Act will extend the federal $600 unemployment benefit per week to those who lost their jobs during the pandemic through January 2021. In addition to that, the bill will extend the enhanced unemployment benefits through March 2021 for gig workers, freelancers, independent contractors, and others. Under the CARES Act the $600 additional unemployment benefit was supposed to end up at the end of June 2020. Considering that 36 million people applied for unemployment benefits over the last few weeks, they won’t be able to find another job the end of June, so this extension is a huge relief for millions of Americans.
Extension to Existing Student Loan Payments
The HEROES Act offer an extension to deferred student loans payments that were introduced under the CARES Act. In accordance with the CARES, payments on federal student loans were delayed through September 30, 2020. The HEROES Act extended it through the end of September 30, 2021.
Student Loan Forgiveness
Another important provision of the HEROES Act includes student loan forgiveness for up to $10,000 for some federal and private loan holders.
Direct Stimulus Check Payments
Second round stimulus check is expected again. This is the most expected things for many Americans. Under the HEROES Act $1,200 will go to every family member, including children, up to $6,000 per household. Income eligibility limits remained the same: $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples filing jointly.
Housing Assistance to Renters and Homeowners
The bill also included $100 billion in funding for housing assistance and protection to renters and homeowners from evictions and foreclosures. The money would be distributed through an existing nationwide grant rental assistance program that would verify a tenant’s inability to pay rent and give vouchers to cover the cost of rent and utilities.
Hazard Pay Premium
Another provision would provide $200 billion in hazard pay premium to vital and essential workers that employers can use to pay their workers an additional $13 per hour for the time they worked from January 27, 2020, until 60 days after the last of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Coronavirus Testing, Tracing and Treatment
The HEROES bill also includes $75 billion in funding for coronavirus testing, tracing, and treatment. In addition to that, this provision ensures that every American could receive free coronavirus testing.
Assistance for State Governments and SNAP Benefits
Some other provisions included financial assistance to state and local governments that have lost revenue due to the coronavirus shutdowns; 15% funding increase to the maximum SNAP food benefits that individual household could receive; and assistance to the USPS.
Not So Good News
For the bill to be signed into law it needs to be passed by the Senate and signed by the President and both oppose the new coronavirus stimulus package. Although the Senate hasn’t voted yet, the problem is that Republicans hold a majority in the Senate and the Republicans are against any additional stimulus measures at this time. Mitch McConnell called the package a “totally unserious effort”. In this context the Senate has two options: either to negotiate the HEROES Act with the Democrats or to create its own version. Taking into the account the negotiations with the Democrats are going to be extremely hard, especially considering the deep differences in opinions and the importance of the issue, my bet is that the Senate will come out with its own proposal.
The timing on this is also not looking good as the Senate isn’t likely to return to Washington until the end of May or even June. Then they need to gather the data, review, and analyze it and make the decision. Thus, don’t expect any quick actions on the new stimulus package for now. And this is all when people are losing their jobs and barely making ends meet. My take on this is that the Senate must come back to work as soon as possible, and start working on the new bill. Worst case scenario for the Senate is to try to strike a deal with the House. Either way, the need to do something and not to stand still.
Will There Be A Second Stimulus Check?
Another important question is whether we are actually going to see another stimulus package at all and second round stimulus check. To be honest, I think there is a high chance that we may not see it at all. As I mentioned above the Senate is against any additional stimulus packages of now. Instead, the Republican leader in the Senate Mitch McConnel is working on a draft legislation focused on liability protection for businesses and individuals that may be ready within one to two weeks. Until this legislation comes us out, I think it would be best for all us to not be hopeful and overly optimistic regarding the second stimulus check. Instead, I think we should grab some popcorn and continue to watch developments on Capitol Hill.