Democratic senators introduce bill to give another monthly payment to Americans hit by COVID-19

Lalit K Jha

Washington, May 9 (PTI) Arguing that a one-time payment of USD 1,200 to most of the Americans during the coronavirus outbreak is not enough, three top Democratic senators introduced a legislation on Friday to provide a recurring USD-2,000 monthly check to those struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act, introduced by former presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, Indian-origin Senator Kamala Harris and Senator Ed Markey, proposes to provide a monthly USD-2,000 check to every individual with an income below USD 120,000 throughout and for three months following the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the proposal, married couples who file jointly would receive USD 4,000; USD 2,000 per child up to three children and it would be implemented retroactively from March.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused millions to struggle to pay the bills or feed their families, Harris said. The previous CARES Act, she argued, gave Americans an important one-time payment.

'But it is clear that was not nearly enough to meet the needs of this historic crisis. Bills will continue to come in every single month during the pandemic and so should help from the government,' she said.

The Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act will ensure that families have the resources they need to make ends meet, she added.

According to the senators, as a result of this horrific pandemic, tens of millions of Americans are living in economic desperation, not knowing where their next meal or paycheck will come from. The one-time USD 1,200 check that many Americans recently received is not nearly enough to pay the rent, put food on the table and make ends meet, they argued.

'During this unprecedented crisis, Congress has a responsibility to make sure that every working-class household in America receives a USD-2,000 emergency payment a month for each family member.... 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.

A single check is not sufficient for households that are struggling during this health and economic crisis. Americans need more than just one payment, Markey said.

Markey called for recurring direct cash assistance so that Americans have the reassurance that this critical support will continue and that their government will support them.

'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 Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act is endorsed by Economic Security Project Action, Humanity Forward, Community Change Action, High Ground Institute, LatinxVoice, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Income Movement, People's Action, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Golden State Opportunity, MyPath, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Heartland Alliance, One Fair Wage, Caring Across Generations, End Child Poverty CA/The GRACE Institute, Coalition on Human Needs, Black to the Future Action Fund, ParentsTogether Action, RESULTS, and Forum for Youth Investment.

'As Congress considers the next relief package, USD 2,000 monthly payments must be part of the equation,' said Natalie Foster, co-chair of Economic Security Project.

'Alongside other important programmes, cash payments give families an income floor so that no American is one missed paycheck away from living on the street. We are glad that there is growing support for direct payments both inside Congress and among the broader public,' she said. PTI LKJ RC