Today the U.S. House of representatives is set to vote on the Health Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROS) Act. This would mark the fifth piece of legislation directly addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and the wake of economic peril its left many in. The bill spans 1800 pages and has an estimated sticker price of roughly $3 trillion.
Although not a direct copy of the CARES Act that provided the last round of stimulus payments, it is proposed that the same $1,200 and dependent child payment additionally. However, the CARES act only benefited tax payers with Social Security Numbers (SSNs) whereas the HEROS act will disburse retroactive payments along with the second round of payments to those with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs).The impact would be funding to an additional 4.3 million adults and 3.5 million children.
What else is included?
- About $200 billion for hazard pay for essential workers who face heightened health risks during the crisis
- $75 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing
- An extension of the $600 per week federal unemployment insurance benefit through January (the provision approved in March is set to expire after July)
- $175 billion in rent, mortgage and utility assistance
- Subsidies and a special Affordable Care Act enrollment period to people who lose their employer-sponsored health coverage
- More money for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, including a 15% increase in the maximum benefit
- Measures designed to buoy small businesses and help them keep employees on payroll, such as $10 billion in emergency disaster assistance grants and a strengthened employee retention tax credit
- Money for election safety during the pandemic and provisions to make voting by mail easier
- Relief for the U.S. Postal Service
- Nearly $1 Trillion in relief for state and local governments
Although the House is slotted to vote on the bill today, that would not be the end of its journey. Before any relief can reach your mailbox or bank account the bill faces a stiff roadblocks in weaving its way through senate approval as party lines have strongly different opinions as to the need and direction of additional funding efforts.