Two former Democratic presidential hopefuls and a Senate colleague have an aggressive new proposal to expand direct financial assistance to Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Edward J. Markey are joining in draft legislation that was reviewed ahead of official release by CQ Roll Call that would provide $2,000 per month to all Americans, including children and others of those claimed as dependents.
Sanders, a Vermont independent and two-time presidential candidate who caucuses with the Democrats, said in an advance statement that the economic crisis brought on by coronavirus-related closures will require far more than the one-time $1,200 checks provided to many Americans already.
“During this unprecedented crisis, Congress has a responsibility to make sure that every working-class household in America receives a $2,000 emergency payment a month for each family member. I am proud to be introducing legislation with Senator Harris to do exactly that,” Sanders said. “If we can bail out large corporations, we can make sure that everyone in this country has enough income to pay for the basic necessities of life.”
“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 Sens. Sanders and Markey as we push to pass this bill immediately,” added Harris, a onetime rival to Sanders for the Democratic nomination for president.
Markey also highlighted the significance of recurring payments for workers in the gig economy. Many of those workers may be attempting to access the expanded unemployment insurance provided in a recent coronavirus response law.
Proposals similar to the one being announced Friday by Harris, Markey and Sanders are circulating.
In the House, Democratic Reps. Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania and Don Beyer of Virginia have written to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on the same topic. In a letter dated Tuesday, they sought a $2,000 payment in the next round of assistance, with provisions for additional payments to be made at least once a quarter if circumstances warrant.
“So many Americans need help right now, and Congress must not fail them. This is not a time to hold back — leaving people at the mercy of this crisis would be immoral and would hurt, not help, the broader economy,” Beyer said in a statement. “We saw quickly that the first round of direct payments needed improvements and we should make them rapidly and get assistance to those who need it, especially the millions worried about making their rent payments or buying food."
The House members were following on an earlier letter along the same lines from 18 Senate Democratic Caucus members to Senate leaders seeking more robust payments.