Prospects Questionable for New House of Representatives Pandemic Relief Bill

The House of Representatives on Monday released text of a revised coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic relief bill, expected to be voted on this week before the House recesses for pre-election campaigning. The bill is based on the previously introduced HEROES Act.

However, the legislation substantially exceeds the level of assistance and cost that the GOP-controlled Senate and the Trump administration have expressed willingness to support. House passage of this estimated $2.2 trillion proposal is seen by some as potentially providing incumbents up for reelection with campaign talking points even if the bill is not taken up in the Senate.

In addition to general provisions that include financial aid to state and local governments and schools, direct cash payments to taxpayers, extended unemployment benefits, and aid to struggling employers, the bill contains the following benefits-related provisions.

  • Targeted small business loan relief and other revisions of the Paycheck Protection Program
  • Coverage for COVID-19-related treatment with no cost sharing
  • Amendments to the Emergency Paid Leave Act
  • Relief for struggling union pension plans
  • Relief for single-employer pension plans
  • Extension of the deadline to roll over waived 2019 and 2020 RMDs
  • Clarification of the CARES Act’s application to money purchase pension plans
  • Grants to assist low-income women and victims of domestic abuse in obtaining QDROs
  • Technical corrections to SECURE Act provisions regarding funding for community newspaper pension plans
  • Creation of a union “composite plan” consisting of 401(k) and defined benefit plan provisions