H.R. 6800 Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act or the HEROES Act
This bill responds to the COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) outbreak and its impact on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses.
Among other things, the bill
- provides FY2020 emergency supplemental appropriations to federal agencies;
- provides payments and other assistance to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments;
- provides additional direct payments of up to $1,200 per individual;
expands paid sick days, family and medical leave, unemployment compensation, nutrition and food assistance programs, housing assistance, and payments to farmers;
- modifies and expands the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans and grants to small businesses and nonprofit organizations;
- establishes a fund to award grants for employers to provide pandemic premium pay for essential workers;
- expands several tax credits and deductions;
- provides funding and establishes requirements for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing;
- eliminates cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatments;
- extends and expands the moratorium on certain evictions and foreclosures;
- and requires employers to develop and implement infectious disease exposure control plans.
The bill also modifies or expands a wide range of other programs and policies, including those regarding
- Medicare and Medicaid,
- health insurance,
- broadband service,
- medical product supplies,
- student loans and financial aid,
- the federal workforce,
- veterans benefits,
- consumer protection requirements,
- the U.S. Postal Service,
- federal elections,
- aviation and railroad workers,
- andpension and retirement plans.
Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) objects giving these reasons:
- Allows illegal immigrants to receive a stimulus check.
- Opens the Paycheck Protection Program to the payrolls of 501c4 dark money political groups, lobbyists, and professional sports teams.
- Includes election provisions to enhance democratic partisan advantages.
- Lets wealthy people who make money from dividends and royalties claim the earned income tax credit, which is an anti-poverty provision.
- Shields illegal immigrants from deportation.
- Addresses marijuana issues unrelated to the COVID-19 situation.
- Orders the release of federal prisoners into the community who have asthma, diabetes, or are over 50.
- Repeals the SALT cap in 2020 and 2021, which benefits wealthy taxpayers and is obviously unrelated to the COVID-19 crisis.
- Restricts Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities.
- Provides millions for the National Endowment for the Arts.
- Provides millions for the bio-surveillance of wildlife.
- Provides millions for environmental justice grants.
Even if Reed’s objections were valid, most aren’t important enough to be reflected in the CRS summary. Relief for those who lost employer health insurance, for state and local government, and those who are short of food are all good. Extended unemployment benefits and support for testing, tracing, and treatment are needed. Partisan posturing should not obscure the big picture.