By Laura Walling, Senior Director of Government Affairs, Goodwill Industries International
House Democrats passed the HEROES Act back in May as their opening bid in the next round of COVID-19 congressional relief. The title is short for Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act. Senate Republicans countered this week with the HEALS Act, short for Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Act. The last package that was agreed to by both chambers and ultimately became law was the CARES Act, short for Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Perhaps lawmakers and staff should spend less time on creating creative acronyms and more time negotiating to reach an agreement on policies that will help Americans, businesses and charities that are most in need.
There are stark differences between the HEROES and HEALS Act. One of the sticking points is the cost, as the HEROES Act provides $3 trillion worth of funding and relief, including money for states and localities, while the HEALS Act comes in at $1 trillion — a price that is too high for approximately 20 GOP Senators who are currently opposed to the bill. In part due to a rift within the Republican conference, the HEALS Act isn’t expected to be voted on as released, but instead is a marker bill in the negotiations.
Another point of contention is how to address expanded unemployment benefits, which, at the time of this writing, will expire on July 31. The HEROES Act continues the $600 in weekly benefits through the end of the year, while the HEALS Act would reduce the amount to $200 for 60 days, and then offer a 70 percent wage replacement. Notably, states are opposed to this proposal due to complexity and issues within their own infrastructure in administering the payments. A federal moratorium on evictions is also set to expire.
While there are some provisions in the HEALS Act that will help nonprofits like Goodwill® and the individuals served by local Goodwill organizations around the country, the bill does not include essential bipartisan solutions that many nonprofits require in order to continue serving their communities.
Our communities are hurting and people are turning to nonprofits now more than ever. Furthermore, nonprofits face the unique challenge of experiencing huge increases in demand for their services at the same time that the resources available to provide those services are plummeting.
People in communities across the country need nonprofits — and nonprofits need Congress to do more in the next coronavirus relief package. Visit our Legislative Action Center and urge Congress to act. Click here to take action.