Harris, Sanders, Markey propose $2,000 monthly payments amid coronavirus pandemic
A trio of senators is introducing legislation to provide $2,000 in monthly payments during, and in the immediate aftermath of, the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill, from Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), would provide a $2,000 monthly payment to individuals who make up to $100,000 per year. The amount would then be scaled down until it hit an income cap of $120,000 per year for an individual, where it would be phased out altogether.
Under the bill, a $2,000 monthly payment would also be given per child, up to three children. The legislation would be retroactive to March, the same month President Trump declared a national emergency, and would provide the monthly payments until three months after the administration ends the public health emergency.
The push for additional payments comes after the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill that passed Congress in March provided a $1,200 check for individuals who make up to $75,000.
But senators argued that the one-time payment is not enough to assist people through the months-long pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on the nation’s economy.
“It’s clear that wasn’t 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 government,” Harris said in a statement.
Sanders added that the direct assistance provided under the coronavirus package was “not nearly enough.”
“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,” he said.
Though Republicans haven’t signaled support for another round of checks — and have called for a “pause” before passing additional legislation — the idea of providing a monthly payment for the duration of the coronavirus has growing support among Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other lawmakers voiced support for the idea during a conference call this week, and Sanders has previously pitched a $2,000 monthly payment.
“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.
To help ensure that the payments go to every U.S. resident, the Treasury Department could use information from tax returns or information provided by other state and federal agencies.
The bill would also prohibit the monthly payments from being seized by debt collectors amid reports and pushback from lawmakers that the one-time checks under the March coronavirus bill could be subjected to private debt collection.
Harris led a letter last month urging Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to draft regulations that would prevent private debt collectors from being able to garnish the coronavirus payments.