GOP lawmakers slam proposals for guaranteed income amid pandemic

GOP lawmakers slam proposals for guaranteed income amid pandemic
© Getty Images

House Republicans are pushing back on the idea of providing a minimum guaranteed income to Americans amid the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US virus deaths exceed 100,000; Pelosi pulls FISA bill Pelosi pulls vote on FISA bill after Trump veto threat MORE (D-Calif.) expressed an openness to the concept on Monday during an interview with MSNBC while discussing the financial aid recently approved by Congress to help bolster the economy. 

“Let’s see what works, what is operational and what needs attention,” she said.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Others have suggested a minimum income, a guaranteed income for people. Is that worthy of attention now? Perhaps so," Pelosi continued. "Because there are many more people than just in small business and hired by small business ... that may need some assistance as well.”

While Congress previously passed coronavirus relief measures that included provisions to provide up to $1,200 to individuals and forgivable loans to small businesses, proponents of a universal basic income have argued that Congress needs to do more to help Americans stay afloat. 

However, top GOP lawmakers are accusing Democrats of attempting to use the pandemic to move policy to the left, blasting the proposal as fiscally irresponsible and opportunistic. 

“It’s incredibly tone-deaf of Speaker Pelosi to continue using this crisis to push these radical socialist ideas that have been consistently rejected,” House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScalisePelosi pulls vote on FISA bill after Trump veto threat Hillicon Valley: House FISA bill in jeopardy | Democrats drop controversial surveillance measure | GOP working on legislation to strip Twitter of federal liability protections Blue Dogs call for bipartisan investigation into China's handling of coronavirus MORE (R-La.) said. “What we should be focused on is responsibly implementing the relief packages we passed to get trillions of dollars directly into the hands of families and businesses so the American people have jobs and an economy to come back to when we finally reopen.”

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) echoed Scalise’s sentiments, arguing that Congress should be working on a plan to get the economy back on track after the pandemic. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“Congressional Democrats already told us they’re taking advantage of a crisis to turn America into a socialist country. They admitted this pandemic is a ‘tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit [their] vision,’ ” Banks said, referring to a comment made by House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.). “Republicans, on the other hand, are trying to provide temporary relief to preserve the strong Trump economy we had before the pandemic.” 

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzTrump to order review of law protecting social media firms after Twitter spat: report On The Money: US tops 100,000 coronavirus deaths with no end in sight | How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response | Tenants fear mass evictions Hillicon Valley: House FISA bill in jeopardy | Democrats drop controversial surveillance measure | GOP working on legislation to strip Twitter of federal liability protections MORE (R-Fla.) also blasted Democrats for considering the idea.

"The Speaker’s comments reaffirm that Republicans are the party of working Americans while Democrats prefer diminished productivity, hundreds of millions for illegal aliens, upgrades to the Kennedy Center and bailouts for states that made bad decisions before COVID-19 ever escaped the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Gaetz told The Hill.

There has been no evidence that the coronavirus outbreak originated from a research lab in Wuhan.

Meanwhile, others have argued that they don’t believe creating another safety net is necessary, pointing out that there are already programs in place that can be utilized to help those struggling financially. 

“We already have a universal basic income — it's called work. We also have [Social Security Disability Insurance] SSDI for people who are unable to work physically or due to disabilities. We have security if you're older, they've earned it,” Rep. Paul MitchellPaul MitchellDemocrats on edge over California special election nail-biter Michigan GOP congressman sues governor over emergency orders GOP lawmakers slam proposals for guaranteed income amid pandemic MORE (R-Mich.) told The Hill.  

“We have a variety of forms of support for people like unemployment compensation and public assistance for purely short-term assistance," Mitchell continued, "so I'm trying to understand exactly what [Pelosi] wants to do besides throw more money at people.”

While the idea of a standard income has faced strong opposition from the GOP, members of both parties have floated proposals for additional federal assistance to be provided to individuals and businesses amid the pandemic. 

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyTrump to order review of law protecting social media firms after Twitter spat: report Frustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  On The Money: US tops 100,000 coronavirus deaths with no end in sight | How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response | Tenants fear mass evictions MORE (R-Mo.) has proposed for the federal government to pay 80 percent of workers' wages through the end of the pandemic. And Reps. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanCongress must fill the leadership void Pelosi pushes to unite party on coronavirus bill despite grumbling from left Democrats rally behind monthly ,000 relief checks MORE (D-Ohio) and Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaHillicon Valley: House FISA bill in jeopardy | Democrats drop controversial surveillance measure | GOP working on legislation to strip Twitter of federal liability protections Lawmakers introduce bill to invest 0 billion in science, tech research House members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes MORE (D-Calif.) have proposed for those making less than $130,000 a year to receive a monthly payment of at least $2,000.  

Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalPelosi pulls vote on FISA bill after Trump veto threat The PPP excludes black and Latino small businesses, so fix it Professor emeritus reacts to Biden's 'you ain't black' comments MORE (D-Wash.), a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, introduced a measure that would create a program to provide a federal guarantee for 100 percent of workers’ salaries up to $100,000 for up to three months. 

Updated: April 30, 10:41 a.m.