CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Third stimulus check: lawmakers pressure Biden for $2,000 recurring payments

A letter signed by over 50 lawmakers calls for Biden's covid-19 relief bill to include monthly direct payments, a proposal that the Vice President has previously supported.

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Third stimulus check: lawmakers pressure Biden for $2,000 recurring payments
KEVIN LAMARQUE REUTERS

A group of more than 50 progressive lawmakers have signed a letter calling for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to provide recurring monthly payments, instead of the one-off stimulus checks currently proposed.

The letter does not specify an exact amount but many of the group of previously called for recurring $2,000 stimulus check payments, similar to the ones previously distributed by the Canadian government. However while a repeated payment structure would undoubtedly be popular, Republican lawmakers seem unwilling to support such a move.

Progressive lawmakers call for repeated “survival checks”

The covid-19 relief bill proposed by Biden earlier this month includes a $1,400 ‘top-up’ payment but many Democrats have called for more to be done after nearly a year of pandemic disruption. In Biden’s first week in office another 847,000 American filed for unemployment benefits and the route back to pre-pandemic unemployment rates is expected to take years.

The group, led by Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar, argue that the standstill in Congress over previous rounds of support have left millions of millions without any financial relief. For many, another delay of this length would be disastrous.

"Many families cannot afford to wait for eight months between payments. To truly build back better, families need stability and certainty through ongoing relief - they cannot be at the mercy of congressional gridlock."

Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plans includes a third round of stimulus checks; the name commonly used to refer to the Economic Impact Payments sent out to eligible Americans. However the Progressives' letter calls them “survival checks”, suggesting that for many recipients the financial support is absolutely vital.

Proposal mirrors Harris’ bill from last year

Biden is yet to comment publically on the letter but someone in the White House is known have to supported such a proposal in the past. Vice President Harris, while serving as Senator of California last year, introduced a bill establishing a rebate payment programme which would see recurring $2,000 payments sent to US residents throughout the covid-19 pandemic.

The proposal was co-signed by Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, with the hope that it would replace the $1,200 one-off payment included in the CARES Act.

After tabling the proposal, Sen. Harris said: “Bills will continue to come in every single month during the pandemic and so should help from government. The Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act will ensure families have the resources they need to make ends meet. I am eager to continue working with Senators Sanders and Markey as we push to pass this bill immediately.”

Despite her past support for the idea it is very unlikely that she would now publically favour a proposal that directly contradicts the President’s bill. Biden is already facing stiff opposition from Republican Senators have publically questioned the need for a bill of the size he is proposing.

Even more moderate GOP lawmakers like Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah have dismissed the idea of supporting it, while Sen. Roy Blunt called it a “non-starter.” It seems that there would have to be a remarkable change in sentiment in Congress before a recurring payments bill can be passed.