House Democrats released an updated Heroes Act on Monday night. The new $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package includes much of what was in the original bill passed in May, though is notably about $1 trillion cheaper.
The legislation includes many popular provisions, including another round of stimulus checks to American families. House Democrats also restored the enhanced weekly $600 unemployment benefits that expired this summer.
In terms of education, the bill includes a number of important components. The CARES Act’s student loan payment suspension expires at the end of this month, though President Trump has extended it through the end of the year. However, the new CARES Act would extend the payment and interest pause through September 30, 2021. The House bill would also expand the loan relief to the borrowers with non-federally-held student loans under the old bank-based system.
The new Heroes Act would allocate a total of $225 billion to “support the educational needs of States, schools districts, and institutions in response to coronavirus.” It provides a total of $208 billion to the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund created by the CARES Act, with $175 billion for elementary and secondary schools and another $27 billion for public higher education. The money for higher education includes a portion for emergency grants to students.
The State Fiscal Stabilization Fund would also provide $4 billion for governors to address educational needs. Another $2 billion would be allocated for the outlying areas and the schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Education and Tribal Colleges and Universities.
Outside of the fund, the bill appropriates $5 billion to help ensure that school buildings can provide the necessary protections for students and staff during the pandemic. This would include improving ventilation systems as schools are making improvements to prevent the spread of the coronavirus through the air systems.
Higher education is provided with another $11.9 billion, with $3.5 billion for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions. The rest would be divided with $7 billion for private, non-profit colleges and universities and $1.4 billion for other institutions with unmet need due to the pandemic.
The bill is still double of the price of the “skinny” proposal Senate Republicans have put forth, so it is unclear what its prospects of passage are. It has been reported the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were expected to talk Monday night to try to work out a negotiated relief package.
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