The House Committee on Financial Services held a hearing Thursday on the HEROES Act and the role it could play in the economic relief from COVID-19.
Financial Services’ Chairwoman Maxine Waters said the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act 60 days ago. She added the pandemic has surged since that point, with the virus killing more than 140,000 people and infecting 3.8 million people.
She added federal, state, and local foreclosure and eviction moratoriums are expiring soon as 36% of renters were unable to make full July payments and 4.2 million homeowners in forbearance plans.
“The HEROES Act would, among other things, provide $100 billion for renters and $75 billion for homes to keep families housed during the pandemic,” Waters said.
The bill, which came with a $3 trillion price tag was approved by a vote of 208-199.
A summary by the American Action Forum states the HEROES Act would provide around $200 billion in additional housing assistance.
The CARES Act provided financial and legal assistance for renters and mortgage holders with a federally-backed mortgage. The American Action Forum said the HEROES act expands the financial assistant and legal protection to “virtually all” renters and mortgage holders, including prohibiting foreclosure for non-payment for up to a year
Waters added Thursday the Committee worked hard to ensure all lending institutions can access federal lending programs, such as the Payment Protection Program.
However, she noted that the U.S. Senate “has done nothing” to advance the HEROES Act or any other COVID-19 response bill since the passage of the CARES Act.
“The Heroes Act provides critical relief and protections for all renters, homeowners, people experiencing homelessness, consumers, students, small businesses, minority-owned businesses, and non-profits,” Waters said.
She added “we must not repeat the mistakes of the past,” referencing the 2008 financial crisis that caused millions of Americans to lose their homes and minorities targeted by predatory mortgages.
The Committee’s Ranking Member, Patrick McHenry, however, said of the hearing, “this hearing is a waste of time.”
He said people are losing their jobs, worried about keeping their homes, and in less than 48 hours, many Americans will face a “fiscal cliff” as benefits will come to an end.
“Remember this day. This is a day, in the middle of a crisis, as we speed toward another disaster—this fiscal cliff—House Democrats choose to have a hearing on a bill that passed over two months ago,” McHenry said.
He said fellow Democrats have called the HEROES Act a “dead-end partisan stunt with many voting against the bill.
“Americans don’t want gamesmanship. They don’t want petty partisanship. They want actions and they want results,” he said.
McHenry said the passage of the CARES was the right response at the right time. But this bill is not.
“Is it worth it to continue pushing for things you know you will never get done and delay passage of what is a more reasonable policy. Knowing that by delaying and doing stunts like today, it’s just another minute, another hour, another day wasted not serving the American people,” McHenry said.
He concluded his statement by saying House Republicans want to support businesses and homeowners and want “hard compromises” to get the country back on track.