Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Comparing the Heroes and HEALS Acts

Aug 7, 2020 | Other Spending

As lawmakers formulate the next round of fiscal relief to fight the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis, two pieces of legislation have emerged as the clear starting points for negotiations: the Senate's Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act and the House-approved Heroes Act. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the Heroes Act would cost $3.4 trillion through 2030, while we estimate the HEALS Act would cost $1.1 trillion.

This blog post is a product of the COVID Money Tracker, a new initiative of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget focused on identifying and tracking the disbursement of the trillions being poured into the economy to combat the crisis through legislative, administrative, and Federal Reserve actions.

Both bills would provide expanded unemployment benefits, another round of stimulus checks to most Americans, offer additional support for small businesses, and increase health, education, housing and rental, and agricultural spending. In the summary table below, we compare how each of these bills allocate their respective funds among a number of broad spending categories.

  Heroes Act HEALS Act
Extend and Expand Unemployment Benefits $437 billion $110 billion^
Issue Second Round of Economic Impact Payments $435 billion $300 billion
Support Small Businesses and Employee Retention $290 billion $200 billion^
Issue Small Business Loans $0 $158 billion
Provide State and Local Aid and Education Funding $1.3 trillion $105 billion
Increase Health-Related Spending $382 billion $111 billion
Provide Additional Support to Farmers $31 billion $20 billion
Provide Additional Housing and Rental Assistance $202 billion $3 billion
Provide Hazard Pay to Essential Workers $190 billion $0
Provide Pension and Retirement Relief $48 billion $0
Support the Safety Net $53 billion $15 billion
Reduce Individual Income Taxes $291 billion $0
Reduce Business Tax Cuts -$254 billion $0
Other Spending $32 billion $31 billion
Grand Total $3.4 trillion $1.1 trillion

^Estimates are extremely rough and actual costs could differ substantially
Figures may not sum due to rounding
Source: Bill text, Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), legislative summaries, and CRFB calculations

In the following tables, we break down each of the major spending categories included in the summary table above, detailing provisions in each bill and how much those provisions would cost over a decade.

Extend and Expand Unemployment Benefits
Heroes Act ($437 billion)* HEALS Act ($110 billion)^
  • Extend $600 per week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) bonus, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits, and Pandemic Extended Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) through January*
  • Extend 100 percent federal reimbursement for extended unemployment compensation through June 2021*
  • Extend financing of short-term compensation programs through January*
  • Extend Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) bonus at $200 per week, down from $600, through September – $50 billion^
  • Require states to transition to a 70 percent wage replacement rate in October, capping bonus at $500 per week and allowing states keep paying a $200 per week bonus with a two-month waiver – $60 billion^
  • Fund administrative costs, increase payments to governments and self-insured non-profits, require more documentation from contractors and the self-employed, and require states to explain return-to-work requirements – Unknown
Issue Second Round of Economic Impact Payments
Heroes Act ($435 billion) HEALS Act ($300 billion)
  • Provide tax rebates of $1,200 per-adult and $1,200 per-dependent (capped at 3 dependents), phased out beginning at $75,000 of income ($150,000 for joint filers) – $413 billion
  • Loosen certain rules for previous and current rebates – $23 billion
  • Provide tax rebates of $1,200 per-adult and $500 per-dependent, phased out beginning at $75,000 of income ($150,000 for joint filers) – $300 billion
Support Small Businesses and Employee Retention
Heroes Act ($290 billion) HEALS Act ($200 billion)^
  • Clairfy coordination between Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) to ensure borrowers can take advantage of both – $164 billion
  • Provide tax credits for employer pandemic expenses and fixed costs for closed businesses – $73 billion
  • Expand and extend paid leave credit – $32 billion
  • Provide 90 percent of income credit to the self-employed – $21 billion
  • Expand Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) to cover 65 percent of wages up to $30,000 – $100 billion^
  • Expand Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to cover 50 percent of the first $10,000 of wages for someone hired from unemployment – $50 billion^
  • Establish a tax credit to cover up to 50 percent of expenses to protect employees from COVID-19 – $50 billion^
Issue Small Business Loans
Heroes Act ($0 billion) HEALS Act ($158 billion)
  • No provisions
  • Provide $190 billion of "second draw" PPP loans for small businesses with substantial revenue losses – $90 billion
  • Provide $100 billion of subsidized "Recovery Sector Loans" for certain struggling businesses – $58 billion
  • Establish Small Business Growth & Domestic Production Investment Facility – $10 billion
Provide State and Local Aid and Education Funding
Heroes Act ($1.3 trillion) HEALS Act ($105 billion)
  • Provide $915 billion of fiscal relief to states, territories, tribes, and localities – $915 billion
  • Provide funds to help alleviate cost burdens brought on by COVID-19 for colleges and students – $169 billion
  • Establish a $90 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund to provide grants to states for elementary & secondary schools as well as public post-secondary institutions – $90 billion
  • Increase Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) by 14 percentage points through June 2021 – $81 billion
  • Provide $32 billion for infrastructure and public transportation – $32 billion
  • Forgive up to $10,000 of student loans for economically-distressed borrowers – $22 billion
  • Increase funding to the Education Stabilization Fund – $99 billion
  • Other provisions – $6 billion
  • Provide one-time Emergency Education Freedom grants using CARES Act funding – $0 billion
  • Provide more flexibility around previously-enacted aid – $0 billion
  • Consolidate student loan repayment plans into two options – Unknown
Increase Health-Related Spending
Heroes Act ($382 billion) HEALS Act ($111 billion)
  • Reimburse health care providers for lost revenue and COVID-19 related expenses – $100 billion
  • Cover COBRA premiums for laid-off workers from March through January, 2021 – $98 billion
  • Eliminate cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment and compensate private insurers for high-cost enrollees – $79 billion
  • Increase funding for testing and contact tracing – $75 billion
  • Increase funding for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Institute of Health (NIH), other health-related agencies, and Community Health Centers – $19 billion
  • Eliminate cost-sharing for COVID-19 related care in Medicare and expand the generosity of advanced and accelerated payments – $11 billion
  • Increase funding for COVID-19 testing, vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics – $42 billion
  • Increase Provider Relief Fund to $200 billion – $25 billion
  • Increase funding for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS, the National Institute of Health (NIH), and other health-related agencies – $24 billion
  • Increase funding for Community Health Centers – $8 billion
  • Provide a 30 percent tax credit for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) manufacturing – $7 billion
  • Strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile – $2 billion
  • Other provisions – $3 billion
Provide Additional Support to Farmers
Heroes Act ($31 billion) HEALS Act ($20 billion)
  • Increase direct payments to agricultural producers – $17 billion
  • Provide emergency assistance to livestock producers – $11 billion
  • Provide relief to the dairy industry – $2 billion
  • Establish a soil conservation pilot program – $1 billion
  • Provide additional funding to support agricultural producers, growers, and processors impacted by COVID-19 – $20 billion
Provide Additional Housing and Rental Assistance
Heroes Act ($202 billion) HEALS Act ($3 billion)
  • Establish Emergency Rental Assistance Fund – $100 billion
  • Establish Homeowner Assistance Fund – $75 billion
  • Increase funding for homeless and housing assistance – $22 billion
  • Increase Community Development Block Grant funding – $5 billion
  • Maintain current Section 8 voucher rental assistance for low-income families – $2 billion
  • Provide $1 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund – $1 billion
  • Provide rental assistance to all currently assisted wage earning residents if they've lost all wages and are unable to pay rent – <$1 billion
Provide Hazard Pay to Essential Workers
Heroes Act ($190 billion) HEALS Act ($0 billion)
  • Provide $13 per hour of hazard pay for essential workers, up to $10,000 per employee – $190 billion
  • No provisions
Provide Pension and Retirement Relief
Heroes Act ($48 billion) HEALS Act ($0 billion)
  • Provide relief to multi-employer pensions – $58 billion
  • Increase the amortization period for pension investment losses from 15 to 30 years – -$17 billion
  • Other retirement changes – $7 billion
  • No provisions
Support the Safety Net
Heroes Act ($53 billion) HEALS Act ($15 billion)
  • Increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and funding – $35 billion
  • Increase Social Services Block Grant funding – $10 billion
  • Increase funding for low-income energy assistance, water assistance, and job training programs – $5 billion
  • Increase aid to disabled veterans by 25 percent – $3 billion
  • Back to Work Child Care Grants – $10 billion
  • Increase funding for Child Care Development Block Grants – $5 billion
Reduce Individual Income Taxes
Heroes Act ($291 billion) HEALS Act ($0 billion)
  • Eliminate the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction cap for 2020 and 2021 – $137 billion
  • Increase Child Tax Credit (CTC) benefits and refundability for 2020 – $119 billion
  • Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for 2020 – $24 billion
  • Expand Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) for 2020 – $6 billion
  • Double the deduction for teachers' expenses and create deductions for first responders and frontline employees – $5 billion
  • Other individual tax changes – <$1 billion
  • No provisions
Reduce Business Tax Cuts
Heroes Act (-$254 billion) HEALS Act ($0 billion)
  • Reinstate and extend after 2025 the $250,000 pass-through limit – -$246 billion
  • Limit net operating loss carryback to 2018 or later – -$8 billion
  • No provisions
Other Spending
Heroes Act ($32 billion) HEALS Act ($31 billion)
  • Provide additional funding to the Postal Service – $25 billion
  • Provide additional funding for the E-Rate program – $5 billion
  • Enhance lifeline benefits and provide grants to states to participate in the National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier – $2 billion
  • Provide households in which a member has been laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19 with a $50 benefit ($75 on tribal lands) toward monthly internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic – <$1 billion
  • Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program – $10 billion
  • Fund global health programs and international disaster assistance – $4 billion
  • Increase funding for the Department of Homeland Security – $3 billion
  • Provide funding for a new headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – $2 billion
  • Enact liability protections through the Safe to Work Act – N/A
  • Establish trust fund rescue committees through the TRUST ActN/A
  • Prevent Medicare Part B premiums from increasing in 2021 and increase future premiums to fund the difference – $0 billion
  • Other spending increases – $12 billion

^Estimates are extremely rough and actual costs could differ substantially
*CBO combined the estimate for these provisions, and so we do not attempt to disaggregate it
Figures may not sum due to rounding
Source: Bill text, Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), legislative summaries, and CRFB calculations