With the United States Senate slated to resume sessions June 1 after an almost month-long break, Senate Democrats are urging their Republican colleagues to work with them to quickly pass the $3 trillion HEROES Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or H.R. 6800).
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote a letter to his GOP counterparts urging them to take more action to address the pandemic by approving HEROES when they return to work. He urges Republicans to "join Democrats at the negotiating table, immediately."
Schumer said Senate Democrats will try to pass the HEROES Act, which was approved by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives May 15. HEROES aims to give small business owners more flexibility as to how they spend the federal government's stimulus loans to be provided them. Small business owners received billions of dollars in loans under the CARES Act unanimously passed by the Senate on March 25 but found the conditions too onerous for them to fully benefit from the loans.
For his part, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell outlined a set of conditions the GOP intends to see in HEROES. He's confident HEROES "will be written in the Senate." The Republican version will supported by the Trump administration and will have inputs from Democrats.
A sticking point among Democrats and Republicans is the Republican proposal to protect doctors and businesses from certain lawsuits. Democrats continue to oppose the sweeping liability protections demanded by the GOP, however. McConnell said Republicans won't support HEROES unless it has the liability protections they want.
McConnell also criticized the $600 per week federal benefit set to expire after July, another version of which is included in HEROES. It's been seen this extra cash has led to beneficiaries receiving more money than they would have from their previous paychecks. Business owners are complaining this assistance is making it hard for former employees to want to return to work.
The GOP also keeps opposing Democrats' plans to send more relief to states and municipalities hard hit by the financial losses triggered by COVID-19. McConnell said he'd take a look at giving states and municipalities more funding but made no promises. He added "there may be additional assistance needed for small businesses, for health care." McConnell also said Congress will decide whether to pass a final coronavirus relief package, or HEROES, in June.
The main benefit of HEROES is a second direct payment of up to $1,200 for an individual, or $2,400 for married couples. There will be an extra $1,200 per dependent to a maximum of three. Each dependent will qualify for a $1,200 payment. The term dependents include college students, children over 17, disabled relatives and a taxpayer's parents. Households will also qualify for a maximum total payment of $6,000 capped at five family members at $1,200 apiece.