On Friday, House Democrats passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, aimed to alleviate economic distress from the coronavirus outbreak. The bill passed by a vote of 208 to 199. Fourteen Democrats voted against it.
Now, it will go to the Senate. Both the House and Senate must pass the bill, and it must then be signed by the President, in order to become law.
The White House and Senate Republicans have already denounced the bill, with President Trump declaring it “dead on arrival.” And, as Forbes points out, the Senate is likely not going to return to Washington until June, so no “quick action” will be taken.
Still, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has shared that she is extremely happy with Friday’s outcome. “I’m so proud of my members just did something so monumental to the American people. For their health, for their lives, for their livelihood, and for our democracy,” she said. “We couldn’t be more thrilled.”
What’s in the Bill?
The HEROES Act would include another round of $1,200 stimulus relief checks to qualifying Americans. And unlike the CARES Act, the HEROES Act would issue payments of $1,200 to dependent, as well, for a maximum of three dependants. (The CARES Act provided just $500 for dependent children only, according to Forbes.)
In addition, the legislation hopes to relieve economic distress by extending the additional $600 per week for unemployment benefits to January 2021. It also assists homeowners and renters by temporarily prohibiting eviction filings for one year and foreclosures, Investopedia reported.
The HEROES Act also includes hazard pay for essential workers, debt collection relief, and an extension on suspended debt payments for federal student loans until September 2021.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Has Argued the Bill Will Ease Americans’ ‘Suffering’
Although the Senate Republicans and the President have voiced their opposition to the bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still pushing for the HEROES Act, arguing that it will ease millions of people’s suffering.
On Friday, Pelosi said, “Not to act now is not only irresponsible in a humanitarian way, it is irresponsible because it’s only going to cost more, more in terms of lives, livelihood, cost to the budget, cost to our democracy.”
In response, Rep. Tom Cole said, “The bill is simply a Democratic agenda masquerading as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. The bill will go nowhere and go there fast. … Why we’re going through this exercise rather than negotiating in a bipartisan manner is beyond my understanding.”
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy echoed those sentiments, saying, “I listened to what Speaker Pelosi told your conference — to go big. Instead of going big, it seems you went crazy. This is a political messaging bill that has no chance at becoming law.”
Some policymakers have expressed their optimism about forthcoming negotiations.
NBC quotes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as saying, “I think that there’s actual room for expansion in the Senate negotiation, not just contraction. And honestly, some of the things that Republicans don’t like I don’t like either. So I think that there’s even more room there. So we’ll see where it goes but you know this isn’t a final passage vote. It’s a first step vote.”