While the House of Representatives passed a 4th coronavirus relief bill last May, the Senate House did not put it up for review before Congress went into an August recess. Instead, the Republican majority passed its own version, calling it the HEALS Act, as opposed to the Heroes Act passed by the House in May.
The first distinguishing aspect about the Republucan’s HEAL Act is that the amount being pushed for by the Senate is only $1 trillion, which cuts down the $2.2. trillion of the original CARES Act. In contrast, the House of Representatives is proposing to increase the stimulus fund to $3 trillion.
Although many of the states in the U.S. opened their economies much earlier than what health experts recommended as safe, the premature opening failed to launch many businesses on the road to recovery. The economy hardly improved as the disregard for safe distancing measures only resulted in the rapid increase of COVID-19 infection cases and deaths in most states.
Many commercial establishments also suffered as a result of the protest movements combined with the looting and burning incidents instigated by agitators. Although millions were able to go back to work, millions also lost their jobs. Most nonessential businesses had to close shop again, especially in regions where on a daily basis, tens of thousands had been testing positive with the coronavirus disease.
Congress is about to put the two proposals up for deliberation and hopefully for finalization next week when sessions reconvene. Yet it appears strong oppositions coming from both sides will slow down the legislation processes. A number of Democrats are not too keen on approving additional funds for the contentious Payroll Protection Program (PPP), since reports have it that large take outs went to companies that did not meet the eligibility criteria.
Currently, more than $100 billion of the PPP funds lay unclaimed. Many small business owners are wary that the present on and off reopening will make it difficult for them to meet the forgiveness feature of the PPP loan.
Differences in PPP Proposed by HEROES Act vs. HEALS Act
Inasmuch as the PPP dole outs have been reported as faulty, and with $100 billion still available, House Democrats are not proposing additional funding for the program. Nonetheless, their Heroes Act recommends the elimination of the 75% payroll requirement as forgiveness criterion, whilst moving the application deadline up to December 31, 2020.
On the other hand, the HEALS Act of the Republicans intends to inject an additional $190 billion to the present PPP fund balance. Moreover, if the HEALS Act PPP passes both Houses, eligibility requirements will be expanded in order to qualify those disqualified under the CARES Act. Although the HEALS Act also proposes the elimination of the 75% payroll expense requirement, it also wants to expand fund usage that will qualify PPP borrowers for forgiveness.