A GROUP of Senate Democrats is calling for recurring direct stimulus checks to be put into Biden’s Covid bill, saying that families “deserve certainty” while the economy recovers from the pandemic.
In a letter addressed to the president, the ten senators – led by Oregon’s Ron Wyden – bid the administration to include recurring direct payments and automatic unemployment insurance extensions in the Build Back Better long-term economic plan.
“This crisis is far from over, and families deserve certainty that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads,” the lawmakers wrote.
“Families should not be at the mercy of constantly-shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions.”
Joe Biden’s $1.9trillion Covid relief package relief package, which included $1400 stimulus checks, made it through the lower chamber last week by 219-212 with every Republican and two Democrats voting against the measures.
It would now go to the Senate.
The senators who penned the letter said automatic unemployment insurance was a necessity in keeping those who had lost their jobs afloat, while direct payments were “crucial for supporting struggling families who aren’t reached by unemployment insurance”.
The two forms of payment together would help to keep millions of people above the poverty line, they wrote.
The senators did not name the size or frequency of the payments they were suggesting, nor the income eligibility level for payment recipients.
The signatures on the letter included Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Edward J. Markey and Cory A. Booker, to name a few.
The Build Back Better long-term economic plan would allocate billions to Covid-19 vaccination efforts and testing, schools, state and local governments and emergency jobless benefits.
Families who meet the income requirements will get $1,400 per person in the household, including dependents.
That means that a family of five with two parents and three children would get $7,000 total, instead of $3,000 from previous stimulus rounds in which only dependents under 17 years old received money.
The third stimulus payments phase out until $100,000 annual income for individual filers, $150,000 for heads of household and $200,000 for couples filing jointly.
If it passes the Senate, Biden can sign it into law before March 14, when emergency unemployment benefits are set to expire.
"We're going to make a giant step forward tonight," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
Republicans said the bill was too expensive and said too few education dollars would be spent quickly to immediately reopen schools.
They said it was laden with gifts to Democratic constituencies like labor unions and funneled money to Democratic-run states they suggested didn't need it because their budgets had bounced back.
“To my colleagues who say this bill is bold, I say it's bloated," said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
If all goes according to plan for the Democrats, and the package heads to Biden's desk by March 14 for final approval, the first stimulus checks could begin going out the week of March 22, according to CNET.
According to Fox Business reports, the senators have paired their request with a grassroots push from the left-leaning Progressive Change Institute and Economic Security Project, which is calling on other lawmakers to sign the proposal.
“Georgia showed the political power of checks, and data shows these checks plus unemployment benefits keep millions of families out of poverty,” Adam Green, PCI’s co-founder, said.
“President Biden could expect broad support throughout the Democratic Caucus if he includes recurring benefits in his Build Back Better long-term economic recovery plan.”
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