For immediate release | May 14, 2020

House Speaker unveils plan for fifth COVID-19 relief bill

On May 12, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, a $3 trillion COVID-19 relief plan focused on emergency funding for states. The 1,800-page legislation is the latest proposal in Congress for what will eventually become the fifth economic stimulus bill.

The HEROES Act includes the following funding provisions that will support academic, public and school libraries:

  • $915 billion for state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to address budget shortfalls
  • $100.15 billion for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education, including:
    • K-12 Schools: $58 billion to maintain or restore state and local fiscal support for elementary, secondary and postsecondary education and for a variety of public health and education purposes
    • Higher ed: $42 billion to defray lost revenue, payroll costs, paying students’ costs associated with COVID-19
  • $4 billion to provide emergency home connectivity for households with low incomes through the FCC’s Lifeline Program
  • $1.5 billion for home broadband access, to be distributed through schools and public libraries
  • $5 million for IMLS to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus

The bill also improves CARES Act provisions that would benefit libraries:

  • Allowing public employers (including libraries that are government agencies) to access emergency paid leave tax credits. The credits, which previously were available only to private employers, provide fiscal relief to libraries by offsetting the cost of required paid medical or family leave to workers affected by COVID-19
  • Extending borrower protections to private as well as federal student loans until September 30, 2020
  • Extending work-study flexibility for college students if they are unable to work this fall

ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office continues to review the lengthy HEROES Act to identify all substance relevant to libraries and maximize opportunities for libraries to benefit from the bill. ALA submitted a letter to the Speaker of the House urging more funding for libraries to be included in the House bill. The full House plans to vote on the package as early as Friday, May 15. The Senate has not announced a timeline for its next relief package.

ALA will continue to urge additional support for libraries, including a $4 billion Senate proposal for home broadband access. Additional COVID-19 relief and recovery bills are likely in the coming months as the full impacts of the pandemic begin to surface in various sectors.

Contact:

Shawnda Hines

Assistant Director, Communications

Public Policy and Advocacy

shines@alawash.org