Senate Republicans unveiled the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools, or HEALS, Act, Monday night, their starting point for negotiations for the next coronavirus relief bill.
Included in the HEALS Act are provisions for another stimulus check, more money for small businesses and liability protections for companies that bring workers back to the office during the pandemic.
The HEALS Act comes months after House Democrats introduced the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, or HEROES, Act, their coronavirus stimulus wishlist. While the HEALS Act would cost around $1 trillion, the HEROES Act clocks in at $3 trillion and includes provisions for hazard pay for essential workers and housing relief, among other measures not included in the Senate's bill.
Now, Congress will negotiate and try to strike a balance between the two bills. Here's a rundown of some of the main similarities and differences between the HEALS Act and HEROES Act.
HEALS Act: The HEALS Act provides for another economic impact payment, at $1,200 per individual earning up to $75,000 and $2,400 for couples earning up to $150,000, plus $500 per dependent. It uses the same formula as the first payment, except that it does not put a cap on the age of dependents for the extra $500 payment as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, did.
HEROES Act: The House's bill tweaks slightly the formula from the CARES Act, the first coronavirus relief bill. Individuals earning up to $75,000 and couples earning up to $150,000 would still receive $1,200 or $2,400, respectively, but would also receive $1,200 for dependents (up to three per household). Additionally, immigrants with taxpayer identification numbers, not just those with Social Security numbers, would qualify for a payment.
HEALS Act: The Senate's bill proposes cutting enhanced UI from $600 to $200 per week through September (the $600 benefit expired this week). Starting October 1, the $200 will be replaced with a payment covering 70% of a worker's previous wages, when combined with regular state benefits. The method of calculating the 70% replacement wage could vary by state, but will be capped at $500 per week.
HEROES Act: The Democratic bill keeps enhanced unemployment insurance at $600 per week through January 2021. It also extended how long gig workers, independent contractors, part-time workers and the self-employed can be eligible for benefits from December 2020 in the CARES Act through March 2021.
HEALS Act: The Senate's bill does not call for an extension of the federal eviction moratorium that expired last week. It does earmark $3.3 billion for already-existing housing vouchers, but housing advocates say $100 billion in rental assistance alone is needed.
HEROES Act: The HEROES Act allocated $100 billion for rental assistance programs and extended the eviction moratorium for one year following the enactment of the bill. Additionally, it provides $75 billion to prevent mortgage defaults and property foreclosures for homeowners.
Child care investments
HEALS Act: The Senate GOP designated $15 billion for child care, including $5 billion to child-care providers and $10 billion for "back to work child-care grants," which would help some providers pay for the extra costs of re-enrolling children during the coronavirus pandemic.
HEROES Act: The House's bill earmarks $7 billion for child care through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), a fund typically used to subsidize child care for low-income families with children under age 13. Under the new legislation, child-care providers would apply for emergency assistance for expenses related to the coronavirus, as well as extra cleaning supplies and personal protection equipment for staff.
HEALS Act: The HEALS Act does not provide hazard pay for essential workers.
HEROES Act: The HEROES Act would establish a $200 billion "Heroes' Fund" to provide hazard pay to some essential workers in the form of a $13 per hour pay premium on top of the workers' regular pay.
HEALS Act: The GOP plan cuts student loan repayment options to two from nine: Borrowers would choose from a standard repayment plan or an income-driven repayment plan. Federal student loan borrowers would also be able to continue to defer payments past October 1, 2020 if they have no income.
HEROES Act: The HEROES Act extends the CARES Act's suspension on interest and payments for most people with federal student loans through September 2021. It also expands the pause to all federal student loans.