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Despite a busy time filled with discussions about continuing resolutions, Supreme Court justice nominations, and presidential debates, House Democrats recently unveiled a revised version of the HEROES Act. The original version was passed through the house on May 15 but failed to reach a vote in the senate largely due the high price tag of $3 trillion. The cost of the revised version still comes in at $2.2 trillion, roughly 1 trillion dollars higher than legislation Senate Republicans previously proposed.
The House bill includes a heavy emphasis on the unemployment insurance (UI) programs that were established in the CARES Act. Specifically, the revised HEROES Act would extend the following programs through January 2021:
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation – The bill would renew the $600 weekly UI top up
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – UI for individuals who regularly do not qualify, such as gig economy workers
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – the 13-week extension for individuals who have exhausted their regular UI benefits
- 50% Federal reimbursement of state Short Time Compensation payments
- Federal funding for states that waived the requirement for UI claimants to wait one week to receive UI benefits
The revised HEROES Act includes a number of new provisions as well. First, the bill would instate another 13-week, federally funded, unemployment compensation program for individuals who have exhausted both state and federal UI benefits through January 31, 2021. Second, the legislation would also provide an additional $125 per week for self-employed individuals who were not eligible for PUA but earned a minimum of $5,000 a year. Third, HEROES 2.0 would provide an additional $3.7 billion in administrative support for states through workforce training and worker protection programs. The full bill can be read here.
This bill, like the robust original, passed in the House but is anticipated to be a non-starter for Senate Republicans and has already been rebuked by the White House. However, this version is more likely to be used as a starting point for negotiations for the next stimulus package.