- House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a massive spending plan that includes another round of $US1,200 stimulus checks for American families.
- But that element fell short of what many Democrats had sought – a wave of ongoing payments during the pandemic.
- “I’m disappointed, but I also know the possibility of getting ongoing payments through the Senate didn’t exist,” one House Democratic lawmaker told Business Insider.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
House Democrats unveiled a $US3 trillion spending proposal on Tuesday to combat the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the American economy.
Among its key provisions: another round of onetime $US1,200 stimulus checks to millions of Americans. It would be modelled on the direct payments under the coronavirus rescue package that Congress approved at the end of March.
But the proposal didn’t include what many Democrats and progressive advocacy groups had sought for the next coronavirus relief package – a steady stream of payments to prop up vulnerable Americans during the crisis.
The Economic Security Project, an organisation that backs universal basic income and lobbied lawmakers to support recurring payments, said the stimulus-check plan fell “well short” and would barely cover one month’s rent in many parts of the country.
“Put simply, the one-time payment in this bill is just another Band-Aid over a gaping wound that is getting bigger every day,” the group said in its Tuesday statement.
However, the new House plan for additional payments is different in two key ways. It expands the program to include $US500 for every dependent, not just children under the age of 17. It would also require people to have a taxpayer identification number to receive the money, opening the door for more immigrants to get the cash.
Over 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past two months as a result of the pandemic ravaging the economy, underscoring the severity of the downturn.
Eight Democrats in the House and Senate sent a letter to congressional leaders on Monday urging direct payments to American families throughout the pandemic.
“Without ongoing and robust direct payments lasting at least the duration of this crisis, we will fail to address the pain our communities are experiencing from this crisis,” the letter said.
Business Insider reached out for comment to the offices of Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Jamie Raskin, Emanuel Cleaver, Veronica Escobar, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Sen. Kamala Harris was also a signatory.
Tlaib’s office declined to comment, and other offices did not respond. Two did.
Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri, said in an interview that he acknowledged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “had to make choices” and expressed disappointment that recurring cash payments had been left out of the proposal.
“I’m disappointed, but I also know the possibility of getting ongoing payments through the Senate didn’t exist,” Cleaver told Business Insider. “I think the speaker had to make choices, so what they decided to do was at least get $US1,200 payments to Americans one time. We had a better chance getting that through than recurring payments.”
Cleaver, who sits on the House Financial Services Committee, said ongoing payments would not have likely drawn GOP support in the Senate. Republicans have declared the House proposal dead on arrival and expressed alarm over the surging federal debt in recent weeks.
“Everything we do, we have to have a taste of realism,” Cleaver said. “I was one of the proponents and sponsors of the legislation to do recurring checks, but there’s no point in me screaming at Nancy Pelosi, and I’ve never heard her suggest we’re doing too much for poor people.”
He pointed to the provision keeping the $US600 weekly increase in unemployment insurance through January as a strength and said he would support the House legislation – though he added that more federal spending would be needed in the long run, perhaps in the form of an infrastructure bill.
Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, said that while the bill was imperfect, it provided a foundation for Democrats to build on going forward. He had supported sustained payments, as well as another plan from Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal to subsidise businesses and cover their payrolls. The latter was left out of the House proposal.
“It’s an unfolding project, but I think it’s a remarkable opening, as it does address the magnitude of the crisis faced by states and localities across the country,” he told Business Insider in an interview, referring to its provision extending emergency aid to states.
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