On Monday, July 27, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled the Senate’s latest version of a coronavirus relief package. Known as the HEALS (Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools) Act, the legislation comes in at an estimated $1 trillion.
According to Fox News, it includes:
- $100 billion in school funding.
- Second round stimulus checks.
- “Sequel” Paycheck Protection Program.
- Extended federal unemployment benefits.
On the Senate floor on Monday, McConnell said, “We have produced a tailored and targeted draft that will cut right to the heart of three distinct crises facing our country: getting kids back in school, getting workers back to work and winning the health care fight against the virus,” according to NPR.
Here’s what you need to know about the differences between the HEALS Act and the CARES Act:
Like the CARES Act, the HEALS Act proposes a direct payment of $1,200 to qualifying Americans, according to NPR. That amount would be issued to individuals up to an unspecified income cap. WGN reported families would also receive $500 per dependent.
On Monday, WGN quoted McConnell as saying, “COVID-19 has killed nearly 150,000 Americans, it has caused mass layoffs on a historic scale and left 17 million out of work. It has thrown the lives and the trajectories of our nation’s children and young adults into uncertainty.”
Federal Unemployment Benefits
Under the CARES Act, enhanced unemployment benefits from the federal government added $600 per week to unemployment checks, according to Forbes.
The HEALS Act, according to Fox, would extend federal unemployment benefits but at $200 per week.
Fox reported that the $200 per week would extend through the first week of October, “at which point states are supposed to bring a more complicated program online where those who are still unemployed can collect 70 percent of their former wages.”
Chuck Schumer Has Dismissed the Bill as ‘Totally Inadequate’
Unfortunately, the package does not seem to be getting support from Democrats. On Monday, Fox News quoted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as saying, “We’ve waited months for a Republican bill and still the Republican response is totally inadequate.”
Both the House and Senate must pass the bill, and it must be signed by President Donald Trump, in order to become law.
While bipartisan support for relief packages took a matter of weeks at the early stages of the pandemic, both parties diverge “dramatically” on the latest bill, according to NPR.
Democrats are urging Republicans to start with their proposal, the HEROES Act, which they approved more than two months ago in May, NPR reported.
In a statement earlier on Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “Time is running out. Congress cannot go home without an agreement.”
Congress has until August 7, when the Senate has its next recess, to agree on the details of a stimulus package. Until then, Americans can expect many rounds of bipartisan negotiations.