On Monday, July 27, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and several of his colleagues introduced a package of bills called the HEALS Act (Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools). This series of bills laid out the Senate leadership’s proposal for the next COVID-19 legislative package.
We do not expect the Senate to vote on the HEALS Act, but instead use it as a starting point for negotiations between the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House. Several months ago, the House of Representatives leadership proposed and passed the HEROES Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions), and top leaders from both chambers and the White House have already started negotiating to create a compromised solution.
The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities has written a summary of the HEALS Act tailored to nonprofit human services organizations. You can also read a summary of the HEROES Act that the Alliance published in May. A side-by-side comparison of the bills is available from the Progressive Caucus Action Fund.
The Alliance has been advocating around key issues for the next COVID-19 package including:
- Financial relief for the nonprofit sector
- Increasing the universal charitable deduction to incentivize charitable giving
- Ensuring that nonprofits with over 500 employees receive access to forgivable loans like their smaller counterparts that received Paycheck Protection Program funds
- Providing frontline human services workers with federal essential worker pay
- Giving states and cities financial relief so that it does not lead to funding cuts and reductions in critical services for community-based organizations
- Increasing the FMAP federal match on Medicaid
- Relieving nonprofits of burdensome unemployment insurance costs
- Providing support for child care providers who are struggling during the pandemic
While the recently proposed HEALS Act includes a few provisions, it is important to note that it does not include any of the following:
- Financial relief for states and local governments
- Financial relief or access to loans for midsize and large nonprofits
- An increase to the universal charitable deduction
- Federal essential worker pay
- Any FMAP increase
It does include a minor provision to help with unemployment insurance costs for nonprofits and includes small investments in the child care sector.
At this moment, we will need to fight very hard to see the priorities that impact our communities reflected in the final package. We encourage you to take action today through the Alliance Policy Action Center or weigh in directly with staff contacts in the House and Senate about your top priorities for COVID-19 relief and why it’s needed in your community. Our voices need to be loud over the coming weeks, or our priorities will be left behind.