House Passes Revised COVID-19 Relief Package, Newsom Issues Statement

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed H.R. 8406, a revised version of the HEROES Act, on a 214-207 vote. The sweeping $2.2 trillion measure, narrowed from its original $3 trillion price tag, would provide $436 billion in assistance for state, local, territorial, and tribal governments. The measure would also extend the deadline to use Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) for one year until December 31, 2021, provide $75 billion for COVID-19 testing, tracing, and isolation measures, and provide $28 billion for COVID-19-related vaccines, including procurement ($20 billion), distribution ($7 billion, and education campaigns ($1 billion). The measure additionally includes significant investments for education and childcare, small businesses, worker safety, housing assistance, and unemployment benefits.

On Wednesday, prior to the bill’s passage, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statement on the updated version of the HEROES Act amid bipartisan negotiations on federal COVID-19 relief. Newsom applauded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for “her dedicated leadership and tireless work” to advance a federal COVID-19 relief package. Newsom urged the White House and Senate to act on the measure without delay, pointing to the state’s dire need for federal funding support.

Recall, as part of the 2020-21 Budget Act, California needs at least $14 billion of flexible federal funding by October 15 to restore sweeping budget items referred to as “trigger” restorations. If California does indeed receive the $14 billion by October 15, an additional $250 million would supplement the $750 million General Fund allocated to “backfill” County Realignment services, including health and indigent health services. Other “trigger” items include funding for housing, child support, education expenses and more. If federal funding is more than $2 billion but less than $14 billion, the amount above $2 billion would be proportionately allocated among the “trigger” items.

Despite the bill’s passage in the House, the measure faces an exceedingly difficult path forward in the U.S. Senate and with the White House. Further, amid recent announcements of COVID-19 diagnoses among key political figures, including President Donald Trump, and the upcoming General Election, it is unclear how the measure might fare moving forward, even as California’s October 15 deadline for federal funding quickly approaches.