House Democrats on Monday unveiled a $2.2 trillion update to their HEROES Act relief bill that is designed to provide funding to schools, small businesses, restaurants, airlines, and other industries.
The $3.4 trillion HEROES Act passed in May, but it included a number of provisions that were rejected by GOP senators and the White House, including providing nearly $1 trillion in funding to cities and states, $600-per-week unemployment benefits, some Election Day measures, and more.
“It has been more than four months since House Democrats sent the GOP Senate $3.4 trillion in desperately needed coronavirus relief grounded in science and data, and Leader (Mitch) McConnell hit the pause button,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement to her caucus. “In our negotiations with the White House since then, Democrats offered to come down a trillion dollars if Republicans would come up a trillion dollars. Then, we offered to come down $200 billion more, even as the health and economic crisis has worsened and the needs have only grown.”
According to the Democratic-controlled House Committee on Appropriations, it will provide “strong support” for small businesses that have been impacted during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
On the table is “additional assistance for airline industry workers, extending the highly successful Payroll Support Program to keep airline industry workers paid,” they said, adding that more funds will be provided to education, payments to vital workers, testing and treatment funding, worker safety, and other measures.
The bill also includes $1,200 direct payments to individuals and $500 per dependent. That’s down from the $1,200 for dependents, which was included in the first HEROES Act.
The measure also “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,” according to Democrats.
Pelosi said in a televised interview earlier on Monday that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “has to come back with much more money to get the job done. So I’m hopeful. I’m optimistic.”
The move to release a smaller bill came as moderate, vulnerable Democrats earlier this month released a bipartisan bill worth $1.5 trillion that was subsequently rejected by Democratic leadership in the House. Before that, the GOP-controlled Senate attempted to move ahead with a $500 billion bill but didn’t reach the 60-vote threshold to bring it to the floor, in a move that was widely seen as a means to pressure Democrats during negotiations.
Likewise, the latest iteration of the HEROES Act will now force the hand of the Trump administration and Senate. President Donald Trump on Sept. 18 called on the GOP to pass a bill worth more than $500 billion, said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Americans “desperately need the money, and whose fault it was NOT that the plague came in from China,” Trump wrote at the time on Twitter. “Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!).”