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Senators urge Treasury to protect coronavirus checks from private debt collectors

Senators urge Treasury to protect coronavirus checks from private debt collectors
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Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownMenendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill Former Ohio GOP chairwoman Jane Timken launches Senate bid Brown blasts 'spineless' GOP colleagues at trial MORE (D-Ohio) and Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyFive big takeaways on the Capitol security hearings Sanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack Senate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary MORE (R-Mo.) are asking the Treasury Department to ensure that the coronavirus recovery checks are protected from private debt collectors.

"To carry out Congress’s intent and ensure that American families receive the help they need, we ask that you immediately exercise your authority to protect these payments from private debt collectors," the senators wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinOn The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Mnuchin expected to launch investment fund seeking backing from Persian Gulf region: report Larry Kudlow debuts to big ratings on Fox Business Network MORE on Thursday.

President TrumpDonald TrumpRomney: 'Pretty sure' Trump would win 2024 GOP nomination if he ran for president Pence huddles with senior members of Republican Study Committee Trump says 'no doubt' Tiger Woods will be back after accident MORE late last month signed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, known as the CARES Act, under which most Americans will receive one-time direct payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. People who have already provided the IRS with their direct-deposit information could start to receive their payments as soon as next week.

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The payments cannot be reduced if people owe back taxes or are behind on making other payments to federal or state agencies. They can only be reduced in cases where people are behind on child-support payments, according to a frequently asked questions document from the office of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyYellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation Durbin: Garland likely to get confirmation vote next week Garland says he has not discussed Hunter Biden case with president MORE (R-Iowa).

Brown and Hawley urged the Treasury Department to use its authority to also prevent the direct payments from being seized for private debts, outside of child support payments.

The senators said that existing Treasury rules already prevent two months of Social Security and other federal payments from being garnished by private-debt collectors, and that Treasury could apply those rules or issue new guidance to protect the coronavirus payments from being seized as well.

"If Treasury fails to take action, the CARES Act direct payments are at risk of being seized by debt collectors," the senators wrote. "That is not what Congress intended. We came together to pass the CARES Act to help American families pay for food, medicine, and other basic necessities during this crisis."

Brown, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, also sent a similar letter to Mnuchin earlier this month with Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenYellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation Hillicon Valley: Google lifting ban on political ads | DHS taking steps on cybersecurity | Controversy over TV 'misinformation rumor mills' 11 GOP senators slam Biden pick for health secretary: 'No meaningful experience' MORE (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenYellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill Hillicon Valley: Google lifting ban on political ads | DHS taking steps on cybersecurity | Controversy over TV 'misinformation rumor mills' MORE (D-Mass.).