Bills and Rates

House passes $2.2 trillion pandemic response legislation

The House on Oct. 1 voted 214 to 207 in support of a $2.2 trillion revision of the HEROES Act.

The action came as negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on COVID relief legislation appear to have gained little traction.

Differences between the two sides have narrowed in the nearly five months since the original version of the HEROES Act was passed by the House.

Pelosi recently said she would continue to meet with Mnuchin, but without an agreement, the House would adjourn through the election, with members on call to return to Washington if a deal is reached before a post-election lame-duck session.

An additional $4.5 billion in supplemental funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) would be provided as part of the latest $2.2 trillion comprehensive COVID-19 response legislation under a proposal by House Democrats.

Increased funding for LIHEAP funding has been a top priority for the American Public Power Association.

The legislation does not include language to create a forgivable loan program at the Department of Energy to assist not-for-profit electric utilities impacted by increased customer non-payments due to COVID-19.

“The lack of inclusion of the language, a priority for APPA, while disappointing, is not a surprise given House leadership based the legislation on an earlier version of the HEROES Act, which had no such language,” said Desmarie Waterhouse, Vice President, Government Relations and Counsel.

The Senate is not expected to vote on the House-passed bill given the size and scope of its provisions. However, if House and Senate leadership and the White House eventually reach an agreement on a COVID-relief package, it will likely vary from the HEROES Act.

APPA is continuing its efforts in the Senate for inclusion of the forgivable loan program language in a future COVID-relief bill.

The HEROES Act was passed by the House in May.