Abandonment of the HEROES Act, and Congress’ Plan to Raise the Budget for 2021 Sponsored by:Michael Sesler

In the wake of COVID 1-9, the whole world faces the situation of lockdown, and owing to this, a considerable number of small businesses have shut their doors forever. This has directly added to an unprecedented number of unemployed people. In April, 20 million people were fired from their jobs, and now this number has increased much more.


But, the government is well aware of its people’s situation, so the federal government mainstreamed the CARES Act for the welfare of people. So, people got their stimulus checks to run their households. But, keeping in view the worsening situation, the government wanted to add another relief package called the HEROS Act with an even more significant amount.


But Democrats and some Republicans, were strictly against the move, as they were concerned about the money the government had in its hand. The HEROES Act was abandoned, and now the Congress is planning to bring such a budget for 2021 that could further facilitate people in meeting their basic needs.


Meanwhile, steps are being taken due to the worsening situation of the economy from COVID -19. Moreover, the thing which is an even more significant concern for the government is that there is still no way of getting rid of this deadly virus. If the situation remains the same, the economy of the USA will shrink to irreparable losses.


Relief Package in the Form of the CARES Act:


On the other hand, the Federal government is also well-aware of the people’s situation, as they live hand to mouth. Therefore, to minimize the economic crisis’s impact, the Federal government issued a relief package in the last week of May. The package was $2 trillion, and this package had something for everyone.


The Federal government started providing people with unemployment payments to meet their expenses. Moreover, along with these unemployment payments, the government paid an additional $600 to the people. In the same way, to add more ease, the government also offered an extra $500 for people who have a child less than 17 years.


Apart from this, this is not the complete story; for the first time in history, the Federal government allowed people to use money from their retirement savings accounts without paying any tax or compensation for their early withdrawals.

However, due to the CARES Act, people had their stimulus checks, but now, after the expected abandonment of the HEROES Act, all stimulus check holders must keep in their minds that these stimulus checks will be their last checks.


Congress’ Stance on the HEROES Act:


Earlier, after providing Federal as well as private employees with remarkable exemptions, Congress considered that was all they would get from them as a representative of the people. Although the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic crisis are going nowhere, there is still a small number of senators in the Senate and a small number of representatives in the house of Representatives that are in favor of the HEROES Act.


In reality, Congress is concerned about the USA’s difficult economic circumstances and wants to add Appropriation bills and the Annual DoD Authorization bill at this time, as, according to them, adding these bills will be more fruitful in dealing with the crisis of the economy.


Before we go into the details and demands of Congress about these appropriation Bills, we can add some words about the details of Appropriation bills for those who are not aware of these bills.


What Are Appropriation Bills?


The Appropriation Bill is also known as a Spending Bill or Supply Bill. Typically, Appropriation is a proposed law that defines the limits for the expenditures that will be made by the government. In this bill, money for each purpose has been put aside, and the money is utilized on the projects for which it was allocated.


There are two committees: United States House Committee on Appropriations and United States Senate Committee on Appropriations, under which appropriation bills are discussed and approved. Both of these committees comprise twelve committees, and out of these twelve committees, each one is given a different task. After the sub-committees’ report, the final decision remains in the hand of the United States House Committee on Appropriations and the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations. 


There is no single government plan that could prevail without getting approval from the two committees, as mentioned above. 


What are the demands of Congress about these appropriation bills, and how does the Trump Administration want to deal with these demands of Congress over the issue of the Appropriation Bill? 


What Does the Trump Administration Want Appropriation Bills to Be?


The key appropriation bill for workers and employees is the financial services-general government bill. This is the bill in which Congress defines how much will be put in the salaries of employees and workers. Moreover, this increment is calculated, keeping in view the inflation going up or down every year. 


However, in the past few years, Congress has remained silent over the increment in salaries of the employees and workers, and their salaries were incremented according to inflation. Congress is actively participating in this issue and emphasizing the Trump Administration to abide by their suggestion in Appropriation Bills. 


Meanwhile, the Trump Administration wants to add a 1% rise in the current salaries of the employees and workers for January 2021. Having expressed this much addition in pay, the Trump Administration has also conveyed that this would be an unchangeable percentage. 


What Does Congress Want from the Trump Administration on the Issue of the Appropriation Bill?


After the Trump Administration vowed to raise only 1% of employee and workers’ salaries for January 2021, Congress is consistently opposing this plan of the Trump Administration. According to Congress, employees are going through a tough phase in their lives, as they are confined to their homes or working on low salaries. Therefore, to compensate these losses of employees, there should be at least a 3.5% rise in their pay. 


But, there are genuinely very few chances that the Trump Administration will abide by this suggestion, as it has already said that there will be no change in this decision. 


When Will These Appropriation Bills Be Approved?


The US fiscal year starts from the 1st of October and ends on the 30th of September. So, there are months in the approval of these appropriation bills. Before this date, the situation will go on in the same way as it’s going on now. 


On the other hand, appropriation bills don’t need to be passed at the start of October, as it depends upon the sub-committees as to whether they have completed the task or not. So, there is no fixed date for mainstreaming these appropriation bills. 


After the approval from the committees, these bills are implemented temporarily. Later on, after the new government’s election in November, these bills are implemented permanently. This is how partial government shutdown issues can be avoided easily. 


Senators are only concerned about the upcoming budget in 2021. In this way, the matter of the relief bill or HEROES Act has been put aside by the government. Now, there is no chance of mainstreaming the HEROES Act. 


The Senate is also pondering the matter of adding an amount for those workers who are front-liners against the COVID-19. These employees will be eligible for FECA compensation benefits if any of these employees come in contact with Coronavirus. 


But the White House has already propagated that any step of this kind will be vetoed in the Senate. So, most probably, this Congress plan will also not work for employers fighting on the front lines against COVID-19. 



Final Words:


Earlier, after the approval of the CARES Act, there was a strong feeling that one more relief package would come with more blatant offers. Meanwhile, the government decided to add the relief package with the name of the HEROES Act that was worth $3 trillion. In short, had this bill passed, it would have been the most significant relief package in USA history. 


But, due to the apprehensions of the Congress, this bill has lost its existence. The major debate is about the appropriation bills that would define the economic matters of the coming fiscal year. Moreover, in these appropriation bills, Congress believes that employees’ pay should be added with 3.5% of the increment. In comparison, the Trump Administration is willing to add only 1% of the original payment. 


Apart from this, the Trump Administration has also rejected putting front line fighters of COVID-19 in the category of those employees who get FECA compensation benefits.

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