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The Proposed HEALS Act: What you need to know now

Negotiations are ongoing

U.S. Senate Republicans announced a proposed $1 trillion coronavirus aid package on July 27 that paves the way for negotiations with Democrats on a plan to help Americans as expanded unemployment benefits for millions expire this week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled the "tailored and targeted" plan – formally called the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection & Schools (HEALS) Act – focused on getting children back to school, employees back to work and providing support for a healthcare system grappling with the coronavirus pandemic.

The HEALS Act is the latest in a series of coronavirus rescue legislation passed since March – all designed to prevent a full-scale economic meltdown in the middle of a public health crisis. The anchor of all four was the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the largest economic stimulus package in American history. 

Known highlights of the bill:

  • Second round of $1,200 stimulus checks
  • Reduction of the expanded federal unemployment payments from $600 per week to a 70% wage replacement
  • Legal liability shield for reopened businesses
  • More money and expanded guidelines for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
  • More federal aid for schools

McConnell said the plan would also include incentives for manufacturing personal protective equipment for health-care workers in the United States, rather than China.

With deadlines looming, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi implored Republicans and the White House the same day to come quickly to the negotiating table to prevent unemployment assistance and an eviction moratorium from expiring for millions of Americans.

The gap between the narrowly focused $1 trillion Republican proposal and the sweeping $3 trillion Heroes Act, which House Democrats passed in May, is wide. The two parties have days to find common ground before an Aug. 7 deadline previously imposed by McConnell to pass the new bill.

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