A trio of liberal senators, including former presidential rivals, introduced new coronavirus relief legislation Friday to provide recurring $2,000 monthly payments to most Americans during the pandemic.
Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., argue the one-time payment of $1,200 provided in the previous coronavirus legislation, known as the CARES Act, didn't go far enough to help families reeling from the health and financial crisis.
"The CARES Act gave Americans an important one-time payment, but it’s clear that wasn’t nearly enough to meet the needs of this historic crisis," said Harris, a former 2020 Democratic White House contender. "Bills will continue to come in every single month during the pandemic and so should help from government."
The three senators introduced the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act on Friday that would provide a $2,000 monthly check to every individual with an income below $120,000 throughout the pandemic and for three months once it concludes.
Married couples who file jointly would receive $4,000. Families would get $2,000 per child up to three children.
"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," Sanders said in a statement.
The payments would be retroactive to March. The legislation ensures that all individuals, including undocumented immigrants, the homeless and youth in foster homes, will get payments too.
“Providing recurring monthly payments is the most direct and efficient mechanism for delivering economic relief to those most vulnerable in this crisis, particularly low-income families, immigrant communities, and our gig and service workers,” Markey said.
The senators big-pitch come as House Democrats are hammering out the details of their next coronavirus relief bill that could be a multi-trillion-dollar effort. Direct payments to Americans are expected to be included in the plan, though details have yet to be revealed on how much and in what form.
But the discussions also come as the relief measures are resulting in historic deficits, prompting the U.S. Treasury to borrow another $3 trillion just to pay for them. Some lawmakers, mostly Republicans, have urged a pause in stimulus measures, amid talks to reopen the hard-hit economy.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and the progressives have been pushing for $2,000 per month payments to be included in the House bill. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, introduced legislation last month in the House calling for $2,000 for every American over the age of 16 for up to 12 months.
The Progressive Caucus, co-chaired by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., also wants a guaranteed income provision.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has urged her members to "think big" on this next bill, while Republicans are inclined to put the brakes on another round of massive legislation.
Democrats expect to move forward on their next round of coronavirus relief legislation next week.