January 27, 2021
HEALS vs. CARES vs. Heroes acts: What's the difference between the stimulus packages?

The next economic relief package: From CARES, HEALS and Heroes


The CARES Act passed in March has laid the groundwork for two more proposals from the Democrats and Republicans.

Angela Lang/CNET

With Republican and Democratic leaders still at an impasse on the next economic relief package that would help Americans through the economic downturn caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it’s difficult to determine what the next move on Capitol Hill will be.

“Listen, we’ve had some good conversations with Democrats on Capitol Hill. I think there is common ground,” said White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Wednesday. “It’s time we reach a compromise. And hopefully we will,” Meadows said during an interview with Politico.

The one aspect that both sides of the aisle seem to agree on is a second stimulus check for those who qualify, despite the few trillion dollars difference in the prospective financial aid package. There’s now a new and pared down COVID relief bill from the GOP to include some of the issues raised in both the original Republican HEALS Act, and the Democratic counterproposal, the Heroes Act.

Both proposed acts provide a second stimulus payment, but are miles apart in other areas of economic relief. Each turned to the CARES Act, the original coronavirus relief from March, to form their new proposals. Here we dig into the key aspects of each, show how they’re similar, and explore the differences that keep them from moving forward.

Negotiators must agree on the cost of a final package, and that figure will determine where aid is directed (and how much each project might get). We’ve listed everything we know about each proposal below, and we update this story regularly.

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Stimulus Check Standoff


CARES vs. Heroes vs. HEALS Acts: What’s the difference?

CARES (from March) Heroes (Democratic) HEALS (Republican)
Total cost of stimulus package $2.2 trillion $3 trillion $1 trillion
Stimulus check maximum payment amount $1,200 to single filers earning under $75K per year, $2,400 for joint filers under $125K. Reduced $5 per $100 of income above limits. Same as CARES. Same as CARES.
How much stimulus money you get for dependents $500 for dependents, 16 and under. College students, 24 and under, are not eligible. $1,200 for dependents, maximum of three. $500 for dependents, no age limit.
Enhanced unemployment benefit $600 per week in addition to state benefits. Same as CARES. Initially $200 per week. Then up to $500 per week to match 70% of lost wages when added to state benefits.
How long enhanced unemployment lasts Expires July 31. January 2021 for most workers, through March 2021 for gig workers, independent contractors, part-time workers and self-employed. $200 per week bonus through September. Then 70% matching of lost wages. Extends expiration of federal benefits until Dec. 31.
Paycheck Protection Program Allocated $659 billion total in forgivable loans for small businesses, who must use 75% on payroll to be eligible for forgiveness. $130 billion remains, but expires Aug. 8. Expands eligibility, eliminates 75% payroll requirement and extends application period to Dec. 31. Injects another $190 billion into the PPP fund, expands eligibility and allows businesses to request a second loan. Eliminates 75% payroll requirement and expands approved uses of funds for loan forgiveness.
Employee tax credit Tax credit on 50% of up to $10,000 in wages. Increases tax credit to 80% of up to $15,000 in wages. Increases tax credit to 65% of up to $30,000.
Bonus for employees who start new jobs or are rehired Does not address. Does not address. There could be a return-to-work bonus of up to $450 per week for unemployed workers who secure a new job or are rehired.
Eviction protections and moratorium Bans late fees until July 25 and evictions until Aug. 24 on properties backed by federal mortgage programs (Fannie Mae, etc.) or that receive federal funds (HUD, etc.). Expands to cover nearly all rental properties in the US, extends eviction moratorium an additional 12 months, allocates $200 billion for housing programs and another $100 billion for rental assistance. Does not address.
School reopening Does not address. $58 billion for grades K-12, $42 billion for higher education. $70 billion to K-12 that open for in-person classes, $29 billion for higher education, $1 billion to the Bureau of Indian Education, $5 billion state discretion.
Liability protection from coronavirus illness Does not address. Does not address. 5 year liability shield to prevent schools, businesses, hospitals, from being sued over coronavirus-related issues.
Coronavirus testing Does not address. Does not address. $16 billion.

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