May 18, 2020

$3 Trillion HEROES Act Authorized by House of Representatives

The HEROES Act would provide $1.5 billion to assist with the Low-Income Household Drinking Water and Wastewater Assistance Program

drinking water

The House of Representatives authorized the latest approximate $3 trillion COVID-19 (coronavirus) relief package. 

This is one of four separate measures created to combat the coronavirus in the last two months. 

On May 15, 2020, the House approved the bill, known as the HEROES Act, according to NPR. 

The $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill would: provide assistance to state and local governments, hazard pay for frontline health care workers, as well as student debt forgiveness. 

According to The Hill, the new proposal also includes: billions for medical equipment and coronavirus testing, a new round of direct cash payments (stimulus checks), expansion of unemployment insurance benefits, expansion of nutrition programs, a boost to the U.S. Postal Service, subsidized rent and mortgage payments, and help to cover student-loan costs. 

There is $1.5 billion that will assist with the Low-Income Household Drinking Water and Wastewater Assistance Program, according to the HEROES Act.

"Any entity receiving financial assistance pursuant to any division of this Act shall, to the maximum extent practicable, establish or maintain in effect policies to ensure that no home energy service or public water system service to a residential customer, which is provided or regulated by such entity, is or remains disconnected or interrupted during the emergency period described in section 12 1135(g)(1)(B) of the Social Security Act because of nonpayment, and all reconnections of such public water system service are conducted in a manner that minimizes risk to the health of individuals receiving such service," according to the HEROES Act.

The relief spending voted on by Congress went to review without an official cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), according to NPR. Recent projections from the CBO show that the U.S. deficit would be more than $3.7 trillion in 2020.

Almost $1 trillion of the bill would go to state and local governments to assist with the impacts of emergency spending and a loss of tax revenue, reported the Hill. These funds are specifically necessary to preserve the jobs of the front-line workers, according to supporters of the HEROES Act.

In the case of expanded unemployment insurance and tax credits for emergency paid family and sick leave, Congress approved the credits and their values and did not put a cap on the expenditures. The estimated cost also includes a new, temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through the end of 2020 to assist those who lost work as a direct result of the pandemic, reported NPR. 

The measure was approved by a vote of 208-199, according to CNN.

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*Editor's Note: This article has been updated to clarify that the House of Representatives approved the HEROES Act.