House Passes $3 Trillion Coronavirus Response Package

On May 15, 2020 H.R. 6800, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, was passed in the House by a 208-199 vote. The bill is the latest response to the ongoing coronavirus Pandemic, providing approximately $3 trillion in funding for a wide range of programs and areas. It was drafted by House Democratic leaders and is not expected to gain support among Republicans, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump having already issued statements of opposition. While unlikely to pass into law, the bill may serve as the basis for future negotiations and features a number of provisions that would impact public works, including funding and requirements for
  • Direct financial assistance to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to assist with fiscal impacts caused by the coronavirus, including;
    • $500 billion in funding to states;
    • $375 billion in funding to local governments;
    • $40 billion to tribal and territorial governments;
  • Hazard pay for essential workers. Employers may apply for grants to pay essential workers $13 per hour on top of regular wages. Several sectors are defined as essential, and public works employees could qualify under the following areas;
    • Public transit;
    • Facility maintenance;
    • Sanitation workers;
    • Any state or local government employee deemed essential by the highest authority of that government;
  • Transportation;
    • $15 billion for grants to state, tribal, and territorial Departments of Transportation as well as certain local governments to cover employee salaries and other administrative expenses;
    • $15.75 billion for operating assistance grants to support transit agencies that need funding to maintain basic transit services;
  • Water resources;
    • Requires states and utilities in receipt of federal emergency funding to cease any utility shutoffs and ensure continuity of water services;
    • $1.5 billion in grants to states to assist low-income households with drinking water and wastewater expenses;
    • Requires all occupied residences to be connected to water services throughout the emergency’s duration;
  • Emergency management;
    • For any Stafford Act disaster declaration for the COVID-19 pandemic, the cost share requirement is removed and expenses will be 100% covered by the federal government
    • $1.3 billion in funding to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus
  • Workforce development and worker benefits;
    • $2 billion to the Department of Labor (DOL) for worker training;
    • Flexbility for various workforce development programs to adapt to coronavirus;
    • Requires DOL to disseminate strategies and tools for implementing virtual apprenticeships