Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act

Discussion began in earnest for the 4th COVID 19 Stimulus Bill. It’s important to realize regardless of what is reported by media that nothing is final until a proposal is passed by both House and Senate and signed by the President.

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, backed by Senate Republicans. Earlier this summer the House Democrats passed a $3 Trillion HEROES Act. These proposals are the starting point of discussion for “Phase 4” of economic relief ahead of negotiations with Senate and House Democrats that we believe will be resolved in the next 2 weeks.

A few highlights from the $1 trillion bill include:

  • • Wage replacement of 70% in extended unemployment benefits, replacing the $600 weekly enhancement to $200 per week in unemployment insurance
  • • A second $1,200 economic impact payment and $500 payments for dependents of any age
  • • Liability protections which would shield entities such as businesses, doctors and schools from lawsuits, except for cases of “gross negligence” or “willful misconduct”
  • • $190 billion for Paycheck Protection Program loans – The bill would allow small businesses with fewer than 300 employees that have seen revenue fall by more than 50% to apply for a second round of aid
  • • An increased Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) raised from the current 50% to 65% and a new refundable payroll tax credit equal to 50% of an employer’s qualified employee protection expenses

The HEALS proposal will require Democratic support in both Congressional chambers to be passed, and negotiations with Democrats are expected to begin over what a final deal may look like. This final bill will likely see a combination of initiatives from the House Democrats’ HEROES bill and the Senate Republicans’ HEALS bill, given respective $3 Trillion and $1 Trillion price tags for both proposals. Remember, lawmaking requires compromise!

The Chamber & CREDC continues to monitor Phase 4 negotiations while working with our Federal elected official delegation to keep an open line of communication as the plan rolls out.

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