On Friday, Democrats in the House of Representatives, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, passed The HEROES Act, another, larger stimulus package that amounts roughly $3 trillion in additional economic relief — including another direct stimulus payment. The bill now goes to the Senate.
If the HEROES Act were to be signed into law as introduced, it would give households a second stimulus of up to $1,200 per person, or $2,400 for a married couple, and $1,200 for dependents, up to a maximum of three. All told, each household could get a maximum of $6,000.
The income eligibility thresholds would remain the same as with the first round of checks.
Here are some of the other elements of the bill that pertain to households and individuals:
- An extension of the $600-per-week federal unemployment insurance benefit through January (it's currently set to expire in July)
- About $200 billion for hazard pay for essential workers who face heightened health risks during the crisis
- $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
The biggest difference between this proposed stimulus package and the stimulus measures passed earlier in the crisis is the size. The new bill augments many of the elements from the CARES Act by increasing the amount of stimulus money households can receive and by extending beefed-up unemployment payments until 2021.
For many households, additional stimulus checks and extra unemployment benefits would be welcome. A survey released in late April by Country Financial shows that 49% of Americans say their level of financial security has worsened since the pandemic began, and 61% say the pandemic has affected their ability to save and invest. On top of that, almost 40% say it has affected their ability to pay their bills.
Video by Jason Armesto
Given that most people haven't been able to return to work in the nearly two months since President Donald Trump signed into law a $2.2 trillion stimulus package, which included the initial round of $1,200 stimulus checks, many people are in need of more money. That's especially true if the goal is to encourage consumers to bolster the economy by shopping again as soon as possible.
"A check in the mail in September isn't going to help us," Lisa D. Cook, a Michigan State University economist and a former senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers under the Obama administration, recently told Grow. These impact payments aren't merely a personal finance issue: "We need to get more money into the economy quickly by sending checks out quickly. And we need to provide more of them and let people know they'll be supported."
In addition to the stimulus measures in the HEROES Act, there are many measures in the proposal House Democrats approved that aren't directly related to the pandemic, including relief funds for the U.S. Postal Service and rules that would allow eligible voters to vote by mail in the presidential election in November.
While the bill has passed in the House, those additional stipulations, along with the overall cost of the proposal, make it unlikely to advance further. In order to be signed into law, the bill would need to pass in both the House and Senate and then be signed by President Donald Trump. Republicans in the Senate, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, say they oppose it, and the president has threatened to discard it if it should make it to his desk.
Still, the White House has signaled that it would support additional stimulus measures, including potentially an additional round of checks. And Republicans in the Senate are concerned about cost.
Should this bill fail, legislators would need to work together to come to an agreement on a revised version that can pass both houses of Congress and that the president would sign. The HEROES Act, in this case, is more or less the first move in the ongoing negotiation.
The wait could be tough on people who are already struggling, according to Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate, who recently told Grow that an additional round of stimulus is needed. "The first round of [stimulus] checks were sorely needed, but the consensus is that it wasn't going to last people very long," he said. "There are households in definite need and will be for some time to come."
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