U.S. House Passes HEROES Act

The Bill is not expected to be taken up until early June by U.S. Senate, where Republican leaders have described it as “dead on arrival”.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6800, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act or HEROES Act late today (Friday, May 15).

The measure passed 208 to 199 in a vote that fell along party lines with strong opposition from House Republicans

The HEROES Act would provide another round of direct payments to Americans up to $6000 for a family of five or $1200 person. The bill also expands who is eligible for the payment and increases the dependent credit from $500 to $1200 for up to three dependents. It would also extend the additional $600 federal payment for unemployment claims from the end of July to January 2021. It also includes hazard pay for essential and frontline workers and increases support for small businesses.

But no one should count that money yet. The $3 trillion package—the fourth in response to COVID-19, will face an uphill battle in the U.S. Senate, where leaders have described it as “dead on arrival”, vowing not the consider another COVID-19 related aid package until June.

U.S. Rep Cedric Richmond (D-LA), who represents the state’s congressional district, in a statement released after the bill’s passage, described it as the “most robust coronavirus stimulus relief package yet,”

“This bill does more to cover our essential workers, including hazard pay for our essential frontline workers, coverage of student loan debt, and further protections for renters and homeowners,” said Richmond. “As we continue to weather through this difficult time, this bill would provide our state and communities with crucial funding. Under this bill, school districts across the state would receive over $900 million and our public colleges would receive over $450 million. This funding would keep teachers employed and students engaged. Our state, parish, and city governments, which have been devastated financially by this crisis, would also receive funding so they could keep our public services going.

Richmond also outlined the bill’s potential impact on Louisiana.

“Under this bill, the state would get $4 billion and local governments across the state would receive over $3 billion this year in relief funding. Parishes would receive funding directly and cities would receive their own funding directly. Across the parishes of the second district, this bill would provide: $47 million for Ascension, $8 million for Assumption, $164.9 for East Baton Rouge, $12 million for Iberville, $162 million for Jefferson, $724 million for Orleans, $19.9 for St. Charles, $7.9 million for St. James, $16 million for St. John the Baptist and $9.9 million for

West Baton Rouge Parish.”

“This funding would let our local governments keep first responders employed and public services running when they are needed most. Additionally, our state would get over $56 million to help put on safe and secure elections this fall.

“This bill also takes other important steps to make government work better and to protect more people during this crisis. It would improve the Paycheck Protection Program to make it work better for our small businesses, particularly those in the restaurant industry. I fought to ensure inclusion of important protections for the health and safety of the staff and those incarcerated in jails and prisons across the country. This bill provides $75 billion for improving testing and tracing, funding to save the U.S. Postal Service, and serious steps towards addressing the racial disparities we are seeing with COVID-19, which include better data collection nationwide. We have also allocated $50 million in environmental justice grants to investigate the link between pollution and coronavirus.”

Nonetheless, Republicans in the Senate have promised to block the bill. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that Congress needs to “pause” and assess the impact of current spending in response to COVID-19 before passing another package. The Senate is not expected to take up the bill until after Congress returns from the Memorial Day recess in early June.

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