The CARES Act, passed in March of this year, was an economic relief bill that included forgivable loans, temporary adjustments to the Bankruptcy Code, payroll assistance for qualifying employers, stimulus checks for qualifying individuals, and more.
Despite the enormity of the bill ($2.2 trillion), families and businesses through the nation are struggling to make ends meet as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten people’s livelihoods. The question many people are asking is if another round of stimulus checks is on the way—a direct source of relief that could help with rent payments, mortgage payments, and more.
The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act released by the House of Representatives was dismissed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the end of July. Currently in the works, however, is another bill called the Help, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act. Introduced by the Senate Republicans, the HEALS Act is still under negotiation. Once negotiations are complete, they will put it to a vote.
If the act is voted in and signed by the President, it will provide all the following and more:
More stimulus checks. Currently, there are two options for this. The first is essentially the same as that of the CARES Act—$1,200 for each individual, phasing out as salary increases, along with $500 per dependent. Unlike the CARES Act, however, the $500 would go to all dependents, regardless of age. The other option is $1,000 for every individual and $1,000 for every dependent.
Extension of enhanced unemployment. The extra $600 per week under the CARES Act ended in July, and the HEALS Act would replace it with $200 extra per week until the end of September. In October, the amount would become individualized so that each individual would receive 70% of their lost wages (state and federal payments combined).
Frozen Medicare premiums. Part B premiums and deductibles would be frozen, as they would otherwise spike due to COVID-19 conditions.
More funding for the Paycheck Protection Program. This could allow small businesses to obtain second PPP loans, depending on how much revenue they’ve lost.
Protection for businesses against COVID-19-related lawsuits. Except in cases of gross negligence, a variety of entities would be shielded from COVID-19-related liability.
The HEALS Act, as is, would also provide funding for the reopening of public schools, COVID-19-related testing and research, support for childcare providers, and more.
When the CARES Act passed, it was about three weeks before the first stimulus checks were sent to Americans. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, however, says the IRS could potentially send the second round of checks faster than the first.
The hope is that the Senate votes on the HEALS Act in the next few days, as the Senate is scheduled for a month-long recess beginning on August 7th.
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