Thursday, May 14, 2020

House Democrats' latest relief bill has money for farmers, smaller local governments, Postal Service and more

House Democrats unveiled a $3 trillion economic relief package Tuesday that includes help for the Postal Service, aid for small local governments, and more. "The House is expected to vote on the $3 trillion proposal on Friday, although it is considered dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate," Grace Segers reports for CBS News.

The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act would implement a second round of direct payments to Americans, up to $1,200 for each family member, with a $6,000 per-household limit. The bill also "provides $500 billion in direct assistance to state governments to counter the fiscal impacts of the pandemic, $375 billion to assist local governments, $20 billion to tribal governments and $20 billion to U.S. territories," Segers reports.

"Unlike the last round of federal funding for local governments, the HEROES Act would provide funding to governments serving populations of all sizes. Only governments serving populations of at least 500,000 are eligible for emergency money under the CARES Act passed in April," Ben Nandy reports for Spectrum News. (See pages 22-32 for how that money would be allocated.)

Under the bill, employers of essential workers would be able to apply for grants to give essential workers $13-an-hour hazard pay on top of regular wages, up to $10,000 per worker, out of a $200 billion "Heroes Fund," Segers reports. States would get $850 million to provide childcare and family care for essential workers as well as personal protective equipment for essential workers.

The bill would extend CARES Act provisions for unemployment insurance through January and extend existing student-loan payment plans. Private loan borrowers, who were not covered in the CARES Act, could receive up to $10,000 in debt relief, Segers reports.

"The bill would provide $50 million in assistance to farmers, farmers markets and local food outlets affected by market disruptions, as well as another $50 billion to beginning farmers and ranchers," Segers reports. "It would also provide $16.5 million in direct payments to agricultural producers."

A $100 billion emergency assistance fund would be set aside to help low-income renters avoid eviction, and $75 billion would be given to states, territories and tribes to help homeowners with mortgage payments and other housing costs, Segers reports.

The bill also allots $25 billion to the financially struggling Postal Service. Partly because of a drop in mail volume, the service projects it will lose another $22 billion over the next 18 months, and says it could run out of money by September without a bailout. "The bill also would repeal several restrictions on a $10 billion line of credit for the Postal Service authorized in a previous economic rescue law," Matthew Daly reports for The Associated Press. "President Donald Trump has publicly threatened to block the $10 billion loan unless the Postal Service significantly raises rates for packages delivered for Amazon and other big shippers."

No comments: