Debates About the Next Wave of Federal Relief Unfold
Down to the Wire
In May, House Democrats passed a relief bill called the HEROES Act, that has not yet passed in the Senate. On Monday, Senate Republicans introduced their own stimulus bill called the HEALS Act, which has not yet passed in the Senate or the House. There is some overlap between the two bills. For instance, they both include plans for another wave of stimulus checks up to $1,200 for eligible people. However, the two bills are different in many ways and lawmakers are up against a tight deadline as they try to come to an agreement.
Enhanced unemployment insurance is scheduled to end this week, and many Americans received their last federal unemployment payments through the CARES Act last weekend. Additionally, the federal eviction moratorium that was part of the CARES Act expired on July 24.
State and local governments are also looking to Washington for help. Many are struggling to make ends meet—tax revenue is sinking and spending is rising as communities try to deal with the pandemic. While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle want to help fix these problems, their approaches to doing so are different.
The HEROES Act Compared to the HEALS Act
It appears the $3 trillion HEROES Act will not pass in the Senate, so Democrats are working to include as much legislation from the HEROES Act in the new HEALS Act as they can. Both acts favored more direct payments to eligible citizens if their adjusted gross income (AGI) doesn’t exceed $75,000. Rules about payments for dependents are different in the two proposals, and lawmakers will be debating about the best way to provide financial support for people caring for children, elderly parents, and other dependents.
Another difference between the two proposals relates to whether or not people should need a social security number to receive stimulus money. The proposed HEROES Act stipulates that people with a Taxpayer Identification Number, but not a social security number, are eligible for benefits. This was not the case for the CARES Act, passed in March of 2020, which required a social security number to receive a stimulus check, and meant that about 15 million immigrant families in the US did not receive benefits from the bill.
These are just a few of the differences between the HEROES Act from the Democrats and the HEALS Act from the Republicans, which are being hotly debated right now.
Reaching a Deal
Lawmakers have until August 7, when Congress goes into recess, to get the HEALS Act past the Senate and the House to be signed by the President.
Republicans in the Senate who support the HEALS Act will need to compromise with Democrats, because it is likely that some Republicans in the Senate will vote against any kind of additional stimulus. In the Democrat-controlled House, the HEALS Act will also need support from the Left, which will require negotiations and compromises.
Plans for additional stimulus measures are changing by the minute. Investors, business owners, and workers will be watching carefully as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle try to reach an agreement.
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