United Church of Christ – Wider Church Ministries
Humanitarian Development Team
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Daily Briefing
Barbara T. Baylor, MPH – Temporary Health Liaison
Is Another COVID-19 Stimulus Check Coming for Americans?
Editor’s note: Advocacy opportunity included!
The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Friday on a new, $3 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill, named the “HEROES Act” – the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act.
It seeks to address the continuing economic distress wrought by the novel coronavirus, which so far has infected more than 1.4 million Americans, killing more than 80,000 to date. Those numbers continue to increase as do the number of pandemic-related unemployed, with 1 in 5 Americans filing for unemployment compensation since mid-March.
The one-time $1,200 stimulus check that many Americans are now receiving under the CARES Act is a good start, but it does not stretch far enough to cover households’ ongoing expenses as this pandemic continues.
Here are key components of the HEROES Act:
Fiscal Aid to States and Local Governments
Allocates more than $900 million to state and local governments including Indian tribes and territorial governments, and include funds to help prevent layoffs of public workers and cuts to services.
Adds a second round of direct payments to individuals and makes those benefits more generous than the last package. It will provide new payments of $1,200 per family member, up to $6,000 for a household.
Hazard Pay for Essential Workers
Creates a $200 billion “heroes fund” that would provide a “hazard pay” supplement for essential workers.
Extends a $600 per week federal unemployment benefits supplemental payment through January 2021.
Provides $25 billion for the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service, which is expected to run out of money by the end of September without congressional aid.
Provides funds to states to help renters and homeowners pay mortgages, rent and other housing costs to avoid default.
Provides funds for state transportation departments for highway needs and to mass transit systems hit by massive drop-off of ridership.
Provides $100 billion to states, school districts, and universities to defray additional costs associated with the pandemic.
Testing/Aid to Healthcare Providers
Provides $75 billion to test for COVID-19, perform contact tracing to track its spread, and treat for COVID-19. Dedicates another $100 billion for hospitals and other health care providers.
Private Health Insurance
Provides subsidies for laid-off workers to remain on their employer-provider health insurance plans and creates an open enrollment period to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act on state and federal health insurance exchanges.
Does the HEROES ACT have a chance to be passed?
Proposing new legislation is always complicated. This new proposal is the largest of its kind by far. Introduced by House Democrats, it also pushes hard against party lines and will surely get pushback from Republicans. However, this bill may have more of a chance of passing because the HEROES Act does provide funding for additional programs (not just stimulus checks to American families) and includes some programs that do not require funding.
You can read the one-pager here, or see the full 1,815 page bill here.
In advance of this Friday’s vote, please call your representative and ask them to vote favorably on the HEROES Act.
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