The House late Friday passed the HEROES Act, the Democrat-led $3 trillion COVID-19 coronavirus relief legislation that includes billions of Federal technology-related spending.
The bill – H.R. 6800 – cleared the House on a 208-199 vote, but faces tough sledding in the Senate, where Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., last week dubbed the measure a “totally unserious effort” to address the pandemic. The White House last week promised to veto the legislation, saying it was “more concerned with delivering on longstanding partisan and ideological wishlists” that with public health and economic challenges.
The legislation includes a whopping $1 billion for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF), versus the $25 million the fund received in each of the last two fiscal cycles. The funding boost is meant to support technology-related modernization projects to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus.
Looking ahead to the 2020 general election, the HEROES Act includes $3.6 billion in state grants for contingency planning, preparation, and election resilience. Another $1.5 billion would go toward closing the “homework gap” by providing students and library patrons with access to Wi-Fi and connected devices. For emergency home broadband connectivity needs, the legislation includes another $4 billion.
The National Science Foundation would receive $125 million for its coronavirus efforts, and the House of Representatives would receive $5 million for tech upgrades and oversight of funding distribution.