The House of Representatives passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill Thursday evening in a 214-207 vote. The text of the 2,154 page bill is here > https://appropriations.house.gov/sites/democrats.appropriations.house.gov/files/SUPP_SEP_01_ALL_xml.2020.9.28.1753.pdf
On May 15, 2020, the House passed the first iteration of the “Heroes Act,” whose price tag then was $3.5 trillion.
In the absence of an agreement with Senate Republicans and the White House, this vote is regarded as giving rank and file Democrats political cover to go home and campaign asserting that Democrats had passed legislation and Republicans in the Senate and White House had refused.
Senator Roger Wicker [R-MS] characterized the Mnuchin-Pelosi negotiations as “If the Secretary [Mnuchin] is over $1.6 trillion then I think he’s out-negotiated his majority in the Senate.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “The latest ‘stimulus package’ that Nancy Pelosi has been scheming if the same liberal wishlist that Democrats jammed through in May.”
The summary of the legislation includes:
- Honors our heroes, through $436 billion to provide one year’s worth of assistance to state, local, territorial and tribal governments who desperately need funds to pay vital workers like first responders and health workers who keep us safe and are in danger of losing their jobs.
- Supports testing, tracing and treatment, through $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures, with special attention to the disparities facing communities of color, ensuring every American can access free coronavirus treatment, and supporting hospitals and providers. The updated bill also includes $28 billion for procurement, distribution and education campaigns for a safe and effective vaccine.
- Provides additional direct payments, cushioning the economic blow of the coronavirus crisis with a more robust second round of economic impact payments of $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 per dependent.
- Protects payrolls, by enhancing the new employee retention tax credit that encourages employers to keep employees on payroll.
- Ensures worker safety, by requiring OSHA to issue a strong, enforceable standard within seven days to require all workplaces to develop and implement infection control plans based on CDC expertise.
- Preserves health coverage, protecting Americans losing their employer-provided health insurance by making unemployed Americans automatically receive the maximum ACA subsidy on the exchanges, as well as a special enrollment period in the ACA exchanges for uninsured Americans.
- Restores unemployment benefits, ensuring weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January and preventing unemployed workers from exhausting their eligibility, providing a vital safety net for the record number of Americans who are unemployed, including those connected to the gig-economy.
- Bolsters housing assistance, helping struggling families afford a safe place to live with tens of billions in new supports to assist renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments and other housing-related costs – preventing homelessness.
- Strengthens food security, addressing rising hunger with a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs that help families put food on the table as well as targeted support for farmers and producers impacted by the crisis.
- Safeguards our democracy, with new resources to ensure safe elections, an accurate Census, and preserve the Postal Service.
Friday, October 2, 2020, is the last scheduled legislative day for the House. The House leaves Washington on Friday to return home to campaign. The Senate is not expected to take up the House “Heroes Act 2.0,” leaving negotiations over COVID-19 relief in limbo prior to the election.