What's next for the Heroes Act's stimulus checks

What stands between another round of economic relief and our wallets

May 28, 2020 | Editorial | Politics | Budgeting
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The Heroes Act passed in the House

This $3 trillion dollar proposal is the latest measure from Congress, propelled largely by Democrat legislators, to provide further economic relief to people affected by COVID-19.

After passing through the U.S. House of Representatives in a 208-199 vote, the measure will move on to the Senate, where deliberations and an eventual vote are anticipated in the coming weeks.

What does it have in common with the CARES Act?

More checks: the proposal calls for another set of $1,200 checks to be distributed to individuals making under $75,000/year, with proportionally smaller amounts for those who earn more. Unfortunately, these checks would be another one-time deal.

More unemployment: it would also extend the up to $600/week benefit increase for the unemployed. While these benefits are currently slated to run out in July, the Heroes Act would extend them until the end of 2020.

What makes it different from the CARES Act?

More $ for kids: while the CARES Act capped the stimulus check benefit at $500 per child, this latest proposal would raise it to $1,200, up to a maximum of $6,000 per household. This means even college students, excluded during the last stimulus round, could be in line for a full $1,200.

Student debt relief: while original incarnations of the act took larger steps, the Heroes Act includes $10,000 in student debt relief for both federal and private loans, along with an extension of the suspension in student loan payments and interest already in place.

An even higher price tag: the CARES Act was already a record $2.2 trillion stimulus package, but the Heroes Act beats it by $800 billion, making it over 30% more expensive than an already historic expenditure. For context, the Heroes Act alone would've accounted for roughly 68% of last year's federal budget.

That sounds great. What happens next?

In its current form: rejection in the Republican-majority Senate. Given the narrow nine-vote margin by which it passed in the Democrat-led House, the Heroes Act's swift approval appears unlikely. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has gone so far as to dismiss the proposal as a "liberal wish list."

What's more likely: a series of compromises made during negotiations between the Republican and Democratic parties. While the act has already trimmed more extreme measures regarding both student debt and stimulus payments, the $3 trillion proposition will need to be pared-down significantly to achieve bipartisan support.

Positive signs from the White House: Trump economic advisor Kevin Hasset has said that another round of aid is, in fact, "pretty likely," and that payments will come "sooner rather than later." But exact dates, and amounts, are still several legislative negotiations away.



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