A new, bipartisan bill introduced last week would give essential workers $25,000 toward student debt relief, college tuition, or costs of a workforce development or continuing education program.
The “Opportunities for Heroes Act” was introduced by Reps. Annie Kuster (D-NH) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA); it has several Democratic cosponsors, but Fitzpatrick is the only Republican on board so far.
If the bill were to become law, the Secretary of Labor would establish a new commission to determine which workers are deemed essential and eligible for the $25,000. Some of the jobs the bill specifically mentions include healthcare workers, first responders, pharmacy workers, grocery store workers and postal workers and, “mortuary services, including cremation, burial, coffin making, and funeral home services.”
Essential workers who worked at least 480 hours in a 120-day period during the COVID-19 crisis would be eligible. Workers who couldn’t reach 480 hours due to a case of COVID-19 would still be eligible.
The bill would also allow workers to transfer the money to a family member. For example, if an essential worker did not have student loans or a desire to go to college, they could use the money to pay for their child’s education.