From Your Lobbyist: House Passes the HEROES Act, D.O.A in Senate
May 20, 2020
May 18th, 2020
Late on the night of Friday, May 15th, the Democratic House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, which if passed into law would provide slightly upwards of $3 trillion in emergency relief funds due to the continuing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill includes a whopping $37 billion for aid to colleges and universities and would suspend loans and interest accrual for all loans, provide direct relief to students at universities, and includes funding for institutions to help defray any tuition raises as a result of state disinvestments due to economic hardship. If passed, it would send billions of dollars of support to states and continue to provide governmental relief during this crisis.
While the bill has a lot of direct funding to mitigate the distressed higher education system and aims to help students and protect borrowers, it does fall short on some key policy areas that AYA’s members care about. The HEROES Act failed to: 1) provide full debt cancellation to all students, 2)extend the Employer Participation in Repayment Act (EPRA), which provides tax free contributions towards an employee’s student debt, and 3) include national rent freeze provisions.
AYA’s founder, Ben Brown, explains: “While we fall short of fully endorsing this bill, we are glad to see the House understands the need for continued federal aid to support the most vulnerable people in this country, including young Americans. We hoped that the next stimulus package introduced by the House would have gone much further on some of the bolder policy priorities that would truly improve the lives of struggling young people in this country, despite the cost to the government’s coffers. While we understand the hefty cost of passing emergency relief bills, we know the return of investing in America’s people is always worth the upfront funding, especially for the younger generations who will be shouldering the recovery on our backs for years to come.”
Given the $3 trillion price tag and the lingering sticker shock from the CARES Act, the Senate has no plans to take this bill up right now, let alone an appetite to pass its own relief bill. So while the HEROES Act is not perfect, we need to continue advocating for our priorities.
AYA will continue to fight for inclusion of these priorities throughout the next few months and urge our members to continue writing your members of Congress about the following three issues so they can be included in the next emergency aid package passed into law: