On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, the House of Representatives leadership introduced new legislation they called “The Heroes Act (H.R.6800).” The legislation provides approximately $3 trillion in appropriations and other funding for state and local governments and offers direct support to individuals.
Despite the various names of the coronavirus relief legislation, this bill represents the fifth installment to address the pandemic’s impact. The President called the legislation, “dead-on-arrival,” but at the same time the Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell speaking at an economic forum on Wednesday said, “Additional fiscal support could be costly, but worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery.” He praised earlier congressional action but made clear this is one of the most severe economic circumstances in history and more will be needed.
The House legislation passed on Friday, May 15, is seen as a legislative marker with an eventual counter and negotiation with the Senate and the White House. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has rejected calls for more funds, the Federal Reserve Chair’s reaction, continuing high unemployment figures, and the impending state and local budget cuts, which have been somewhat restrained to this point, could collide with the McConnell position. The McConnell position may not be unanimous in his Senate caucus as some Republican members, including the two senators from Louisiana, have been seeking more relief and flexibility for states. There appear to be shrinking chances for action before Memorial Day, which is only a week away, but June will cause much more pressure as many states start their new budget years on July 1.
The legislation encompasses a separate appropriations section (Division A) and then sections on health, taxes, individual, business, and family relief among the 18 sections.
It does include some important child welfare provisions addressed in CWLA communication to Capitol Hill (see following articles) such as an FMAP increase for Medicaid and Title IV-E, funds for youth, SSBG and CAPTA, but as the debate and negotiations process moves along we will be pursuing additional items such as TANF funding, essential worker supports for those in the child welfare workforce and several other direct and in-direct family and children priorities.
A 90 page summary of the bill is here.
Here is a video diary from CBS News on COVID-19’s impact on the child welfare and human services field. The video diary which CWLA members helped to facilitate highlights the significant role that child welfare workers play. Take the time to view this nine-minute video diary of some of the dedicated child welfare workers providing vital services to children and families across the country. We have created an action alert for you to share the five-minute version of this video diary with your Members of Congress. It is vital that Congress see what these essential workers are doing every day. To take action, click here.