Top Democrat: Stimulus payments in GOP plan shortchange dependents

Top Democrat: Stimulus payments in GOP plan shortchange dependents
© Greg Nash

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealConservatives urge Trump to take unilateral action to suspend payroll tax collection Treasury to conduct policy review of tax-exempt status for universities after Trump tweets Stimulus checks debate now focuses on size, eligibility MORE (D-Mass.) criticized an element of a proposal by Senate Republicans for a second round of coronavirus relief payments, arguing that the plan would not provide enough money for dependents.

Under the GOP proposal released Monday, households would receive $500 per dependent. That differs from a bill House Democrats passed in May, called the HEROES Act, under which households would be able to get payments of $1,200 per dependent for up to three dependents.

"Democrats were intentional when we added a full $1,200 payment for dependents in the Heroes Act. That’s what the American people need right now," Neal said in a statement provided to The Hill on Tuesday. "Parents are facing so much uncertainty as we look to the start of the next school year and $500 per dependent simply isn’t enough.”

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The difference between the amount of money that Republicans and Democrats would provide for dependents is one of the main differences between the two parties' proposals for a second round of direct payments.

Another difference is that the Senate GOP proposal would require people to have work-eligible Social Security numbers to receive payments, while Democrats would allow people with individual taxpayer identification numbers to receive payments in addition to people with Social Security numbers.

Many other aspects of the Republican and Democratic proposals for a second round of checks are the same. Both proposals would provide payments of $1,200 to adults who are not dependents, and both would provide payments to dependents, regardless of age.

Under the law that authorized the first round of direct payments, non-dependent adults are eligible for payments of $1,200 and children under 17 are eligible for payments of $500. Households are not able to receive payments for older dependents, such as college students and elderly relatives.

Both Republicans and Democrats are proposing the same income limits for a second round of payments that are in place for the first round. Under both parties' proposals, individuals making up to $75,000 and married couples making up to $150,000 would be eligible for the full amount, and the amounts would phase out above those thresholds. 

The details of a second round of direct payments is one of many issues that Democrats and Republicans will have to resolve in negotiations over the next coronavirus relief package. Other differences between Democrats and Republicans include unemployment insurance, liability protection for businesses and aid to state and local governments.