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HEROES Act Shows Strong Promise, Senate Must Now Fill Voids to Further Protect Consumers and Student Loan Borrowers

Friday, May 15, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800), the latest legislative response to the unprecedented COVID-19 public health and economic crisis.

Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) Federal Advocacy Director and Senior Counsel Ashley Harrington issued the following statement:

The HEROES Act shows strong promise and addresses important needs of low-wealth families impacted by COVID-19, such as mortgage and forbearance relief, extended unemployment benefits and food assistance, and protections against harmful debt collection activities and negative credit reporting. It also removes restrictions on assistance to immigrant families and returning citizens. The bill also begins to open up the Paycheck Protection Program to more small businesses and non-profits, easing some of the restrictions that previously prevented many small businesses, including those owned by people of color, from accessing this massive taxpayer assistance program. These are important and inclusive provisions that will benefit families and communities across the country. We urge the Senate to ensure these vital provisions become law.

However, as amended, the bill curtails its original, inclusive plan to cancel $10,000 of debt for all federal and private student loan borrowers. The new cancellation provisions are unmanageable and inequitable, and they won’t help many of the borrowers who were recently impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic— its structural flaws will exclude millions of borrowers from getting relief. HEROES also failed to include important safeguards against high-cost lending and abusive overdraft fees during this crisis. The Senate should act swiftly to include these additional consumer protections and ensure that all those with student debt are able to benefit from debt cancellation.

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Press Contact: ricardo.quinto@responsiblelending.org