In March 2020, the CARES Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by Donald J. Trump. CARES, or Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, was the largest stimulus package in the history of the United States and offered 260 billion dollars of increased unemployment, 350 billion dollars for Paycheck Protection, 500 billion dollars for corporations and 339.8 billion dollars for state and local government offices. Many Americans also received direct aid payments when this act initially passed. As students, you may have been aware of student relief as well; up to $500 for part-time students and $1,000 for those students who were enrolled full-time.
As COVID-19 continued its path over the summer, lawmakers began discussing a second relief package. This time dubbed the HEALS act, and many hoped this package would mirror the CARES Act. At first, it seemed inevitable that the House and Senate would reach an agreement to benefit the citizens struggling with job loss, health issues and economic hardship. However, when the Senate recessed in early August, no agreement had been made.
Negotiations are currently at a standstill. A few key points of the proposed HEALS Act are up for debate, particularly boosting unemployment benefits. Many believe that this aid is necessary to keep American families functional during these hard times; others feel that boosting unemployment benefits will only encourage citizens to remain jobless. Senate Republicans are pushing for what has been labeled a “skinny” relief package, meaning that certain key relief features have been left out. A second direct stimulus check is one of the things omitted from this “skinny” bill, despite the fact that both sides initially agreed that it was the correct course of action.
It remains to be seen if American families and students will receive aid any time soon. Negotiations are set to reconvene on Sept. 8, 2020. By most estimations, if a HEALS Act package is signed into law, it could still be October before most citizens see their relief funds.