On May 15, House Democrats passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act with a 208-199 vote. All but one Republican opposed. It will still need to pass the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, to move to President Donald Trump’s desk. He has threatened to veto the bill.
One-third of the $3 trillion bill includes funding for state and local governments. It’s a portion of the bill Senate Republicans have pushed back on.
Governors of both parties have pushed for funding due to budgetary concerns amid the pandemic. The state and local governments have been hit hard with extra expenses related to the pandemic at the same time their revenue has increased considerably due to businesses being closed for nearly two months.
Here’s what made it into the Democrats’ bill starting with money for individuals and families.
Stimulus checks for Americans
The bill includes another round of stimulus checks of up to $6,000 per household structured similarly to the first round. Individuals earning up to $75,000 would get a one-time $1,200 check, and couples earning up to $150,000 would be eligible for $2,400. Checks would be sent to Americans in the amount of $1,200 for every family member, including children. Payments would be up to $6,000 per household.
There are a few key differences from the first round, though. For one, a maximum of three dependents, regardless of age, would also get $1,200. The first round of stimulus checks excluded adult dependents, including many college students. Additionally, immigrants with taxpayer identification numbers (TINs) would also be eligible for a payment this time around.
Reduced checks will be available for those who earn above those income thresholds.
The second wave of payments would extend to Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) filers and their families. This change means that more than 4.3 million adults and 3.5 million children would be eligible for the payment, according to ITEP.
The CARES Act required every member of a household to have a Social Security number, leaving millions of undocumented immigrants and their children and spouses, many of whom are citizens, without a payment.
Student loan debt forgiveness
The CARES Act suspended interest and payments for most people with federal student loans through September 30, 2020. The HEROES Act extends that pause through September 2021, and expands it to all federal student loans. It also cancels up to $10,000 in student loan debt for “economically distressed borrowers” with private or federal loans.
Frontline workers hazard pay
A “Heroes’ Fund” of $200 billion would be established for hazard pay to essential workers, CBS News reported. Employers of such workers can apply for grants to provide $13 an hour pay for workers on top of their regular wages, up to a maximum amount, through the end of 2020.
Rental & mortgage assistance
The country’s 40-million-plus renters have received little additional federal support since the coronavirus shutdowns began. The HEROES Act changes that, providing around $100 billion for rental assistance. It would be distributed through an existing nationwide grant rental assistance program that would verify a tenant’s inability to pay rent and give vouchers to cover the cost of rent and utilities. It would also extend the ban on evictions for nonpayment for a year following its enactment date.
The bill also provides $75 billion for a homeowner assistance fund meant to prevent mortgage defaults and property foreclosures.
State and local government assistance
The bill offers $500 billion in direct assistance to state governments in response to the fiscal impacts of the pandemic, $375 billion for local government assistance, $20 billion to tribal governments and $20 billion to U.S. territories.
Universities and Colleges
The bill sends $37 billion in relief to colleges - including $27 billion to states to shore up higher education spending - while also requiring states to do their part to ward off tuition hikes and help prevent a new explosion in student debt. The remaining $10 billion would go directly to public and nonprofit colleges and universities to cover coronavirus-related costs.
U.S. Postal Service assistance
The United States Postal Service, which is expected to run out of money by September without governmental assistance, would receive $25 billion in assistance.
Election prep and security
States would get $3.6 billion in grants to states to prepare, plan and increase security ahead of elections, CBS News reported.
Funding for coronavirus testing
The bill would ensure Americans have access to free coronavirus testing. It would set aside $75 billion for that, as well as contact tracing and isolation measures.