TWENTY-ONE Senate Democrats have called on President Joe Biden to include recurring stimulus payments into his future COVID-19 recovery plans.
The lawmakers say the $1,400 in stimulus payments included in Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan earlier this month will only go so far.
Now, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and 20 other Senate Democrats are looking for the president to include recurring direct payments to individuals and enhanced unemployment benefits for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden is set unveil his “Build Back Better” legislation on Wednesday, which will focus on U.S. infrastructure and climate plans.
Democratic senators wrote in their letter to Biden: “We urge you to include recurring direct payments and automatic unemployment insurance extensions tied to economic conditions in your Build Back Better long-term economic plan.
“While we are pleased that the American Rescue Plan included a one-time direct payment and an extension of federal unemployment insurance programs, a single direct payment will not last long for most families.”
Wyden’s letter was signed by nearly half of Senate Democrats on Tuesday – including Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT
Its is the latest sign that support for recurring stimulus payments is growing within Congress.
Earlier this month, Wyden circulated a similar letter, which also called for recurring direct payments and automatic insurance extensions.
That letter was signed by nine other senators.
Lawmakers also pointed to the $300-per-week federal unemployment benefits, which run out at the beginning of September.
The economy is not expected to have fully recovered by then, the Democrats argued, creating a potential “cliff.”
In the letter, they wrote: ““We are worried about the cliff facing unemployed workers when the unemployment insurance extensions expire on September 6.
“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. “Families should not be at the mercy of constantly-shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions.”
Another argument put forward by Senate Democrats is that millions of individuals don’t qualify for for unemployment insurance, having seen their work hours cut, switched to lower-paying jobs, or leaving a job to care for relatives.
According to the letter, which cited an Urban Institute study, a single $1,200 direct payment combined with federal unemployment payments and state assistance could keep 12 million people out of poverty and a second direct payment could keep 6.3 million more people above the poverty line.
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To date, Congress has passed three rounds of direct stimulus payments in the past year.
These amounted to $1,200 in March 2020, $600 in December, and $1400 earlier this month.
According to a Politico-Morning Consult poll, published this month, 75 percent of Americans – including 55 percent of Trump voters – supported March’s American Rescue plan, which included $1,400 stimulus payments for anyone earning under $75,000.