As Republicans hit the pause button on coronavirus relief, House Democrats have put forward a bill that would pump another $3 trillion into the American economy.
The so-called HEROES Act – Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions – includes hazard pay to front-line workers, forgiveness of student debt, Medicaid and Medicare provisions and continued help for the unemployed.
At his daily briefing, Mayor Bill de Blasio called the bill “the game changer we need. “
“The city, we’ve already taken a massive hit in every way,” said the Mayor. “So, I’m going to say it simply today. Mr. President, we’re looking to you. Your hometown is looking to you and cities and states all over the country. And again, we’re not red America, blue America at this moment. We’re one America trying together to recover. We need you. You say the word and the U.S. Senate will follow, it’s as simple as that.”
If passed, the new legislation would also include $75 billion in direct assistance for homeowners and allow for the expansion of forbearance and post-forbearance loan modification relief, and provide relief for renters.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled the Democrats’ proposal on Tuesday saying, “We have a big need. It’s monumental. And therefore, it’s a great opportunity to say: let’s work together to get this done. There’s a way to open the economy based on science, testing, testing, testing and let’s get on with it. That’s what we’re here to do.”
The House could vote on the bill as soon as Friday, but already Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he intends to “hit pause” on coronavirus relief funds.
During an online event for the Trump campaign, McConnell said, “We now have a debt the size of our economy. So I’ve said, and the president has said as well, that we have to take a pause here and take a look at what we’ve done.”
In March, Congress passed three legislative packages providing coronavirus relief, including a $2 trillion package which expanded unemployment insurance and created a loan program for small businesses. In April, in passed the Paycheck Protection Program aimed at funding for those loans, which has already run out of money.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has asked the government for $7.4 billion to help meet the cost of of fighting the pandemic. de Blasio said the funding would help provide relief for building owners and tenants and increased small business protections, among other things.
And Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state needs $60 billion in federal aid and has applied for help as part of a $500 billion group request from the National Governors Association.
New York Division of Budget spokesman Freeman Klopott said, “To ensure New Yorkers continue to have full access to essential services and the strong economic foundation they support, we have joined 49 other states and the territories in requesting $500 billion in unrestricted funding.”
Christie Peale, CEO and Executive Director of the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, applauded the introduction of the HEROES Act.
“While the CARES Act enacted a foreclosure moratorium and forbearance for federally-backed mortgages, at least 30 percent of homeowners will not qualify for this relief,” said Peale. “Moreover, all homeowners, even those with federally-backed mortgages, will need assistance with missed payments and the many other costs that come with homeownership – taxes, insurance, utilities, and more.
“Using the lessons learned from the Great Recession’s foreclosure crisis, the protections and funding for homeowners in the HEROES Act will proactively stem the tide of foreclosure early on and help families keep their homes.
“We encourage Congress to pass this new legislation so families who are going through some of the most difficult times in their lives can keep their homes and recover from this crisis.”
See the full HEROES Act here