House Democrats released their latest stimulus bill yesterday aimed at helping the country cope with the coronavirus pandemic, and it has a lot of asks, and a price tag to match.
Clocking in at 1,800 pages, the plan will be voted on this Friday and would cost more than $3 trillion.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress had a “momentous opportunity” to help the country, and that “not acting is the most expensive course.”
Republicans have already said the bill, called the HEROES Act, is just a “liberal wish list.”
A preview of the bill included:
- Nearly $1 trillion in relief for state and local governments
- A second round of direct payments of $1,200 per person, and up to $6,000 for a household
- About $200 billion for hazard pay for essential workers who face heightened health risks during the crisis
- $75 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing — a key effort to restart businesses
- An extension of the $600 per week federal unemployment insurance benefit through January (the provision approved in March is set to expire after July)
- $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
- Measures designed to buoy small businesses and help them keep employees on payroll, such as $10 billion in emergency disaster assistance grants and a strengthened employee retention tax credit
- Money for election safety during the pandemic and provisions to make voting by mail easier
- Relief for the U.S. Postal Service
The bill not only includes another round of stimulus checks, which “people are craving,” as Pelosi contends. However, it also boosts the amount for each dependent up to $1,200.
Amazingly, some Democratic lawmakers want to go even further.
Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan wants Pelosi to ask for checks for “multiple months moving forward,” not just another single round like the CARES Act. Ryan also previously suggested that all Americans should get $2,000 per month until the unemployment rate returns to pre-coronavirus levels.
In response to the proposed bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “But what you’ve seen in the House is not something designed to deal with reality, but designed to deal with aspirations.”
Other Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham from South Carolina believe the government should take a wait and see approach before issuing more checks. Graham says “I doubt there will be another payment,” and adds, “hopefully in the coming weeks here, the economy will reopen and people will get back to their livelihoods.”
Even if the Democrats can get the bill passed through the House this Friday, the bill will likely languish for quite some time. The Senate will be in no hurry to vote on the bill, and next week is the last week for votes before lawmakers leave for the Memorial Day recess. They aren’t due back in Washington until June, and only then can they begin contentious negotiations.