Several Senate Democrats are pushing the Biden administration to include recurring stimulus payments in the pending pandemic recovery package—rather than just issuing $1,400 checks.
A letter sent by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and signed by 10 senators calls for President Joe Biden to provide recurring direct payments and unemployment insurance extensions.
“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,” a draft of their letter (pdf) says. “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.”
Wyden and the other senators did not elaborate on what amount the recurring payments should be. The $1.9 trillion bill supported by Biden, known as the American Rescue Plan, includes a provision for a third stimulus check worth up to $1,400.
“Families shouldn’t have to worry about whether they’ll have enough money to pay for essentials in the months ahead as the country continues to fight a global pandemic. Almost six in 10 people say the $1,400 payments set to be included in the rescue package will last them less than three months,” the letter states.
They also noted that there is wide support among both Democrats and Republicans for stimulus payments for the “duration of the pandemic.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), an ally of former President Donald Trump, submitted an amendment that slashed non-relief spending and offered $10,000 stimulus checks. It was later rejected.
“I offered an amendment to prioritize $10,000 stimulus checks to Americans most affected by COVID-19 and lockdowns,” Gosar said in a statement to Fox News. “Instead, Democrats chose foreign aid, Big Tech transit, and Pelosi’s political priorities over direct relief to American citizens.”
The stimulus payments were authorized for the first time last March under the CARES Act. They were designed to offset some losses that were incurred due to lockdowns issued by state and city governments, which have resulted in significant job losses over the past year or so.
Other than stimulus payments, the American Rescue Plan includes $350 billion for state, local, and tribal governments; $130 billion for K-12 schools; $40 billion for colleges and universities; and some $75 billion for COVID-19 testing and support of the vaccine rollout, among other provisions.
In brief remarks on Saturday from the White House’s Roosevelt Room, Biden said he called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to thank her for her support and urged the Senate to take up the bill quickly.
“I hope it will receive quick action. We have no time to waste,” Biden said, without taking questions. “The people of this country have suffered far too much for far too long.”
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), as well as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) signed-off on Wyden’s letter.
Reuters contributed to this report.