Progressives push for direct payments to be included in COVID-19 relief deal

Progressives are pushing for direct payments to Americans to be included in a COVID-19 package, as lawmakers work to secure a deal before the end of the year.

Congress in March enacted legislation that provided for a single round of stimulus payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. There has been bipartisan interest in subsequent months in authorizing a second round of payments.

However, the $908 billion bipartisan proposal unveiled earlier this week by House and Senate moderates, which is at the center of the current negotiations over a relief package, does not include any direct payments.


Progressives see this omission as a shortcoming and are calling for additional direct payments, saying that they could help people cover basic expenses.

"The millions of people who are most desperately impacted need a check," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezPelosi asks Democrats to 'write their stories' of Capitol riot Puerto Rico officials hopeful of progress on statehood Bernie Sanders has been most-followed member of Congress on social media for six years MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters Friday.

She said that other types of assistance, such as aid to state and local governments, are important, but that people also need relief that will help them solve their immediate issues.

Ocasio-Cortez also made similar comments on Twitter. 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders says he's raised .8 million for charity after mittens meme Former Sanders press secretary: Further means-testing of COVID-19 aid 'unconscionable' Leahy expected to preside over impeachment after health scare MORE (I-Vt.) said in a statement Friday that he can't support the moderates' proposal in its current form, citing the lack of direct payments.


"Tens of millions of Americans living in desperation today would receive absolutely no financial help from this proposal," he said. "That is not acceptable."

Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOver 40 lawmakers sign letter urging Merrick Garland to prioritize abolishing death penalty Biden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs Overnight Energy: EPA rule exempts many polluting industries from future air regulations | Ex-Michigan governor to be charged over Flint water crisis: report | Officials ousted from White House after papers casting doubt on climate science MORE (D-Mich.) said on Twitter that ideally Congress should enact recurring direct payments to Americans. She referenced a Gallup survey conducted in August that found majority support for a second round of payments.

The congressional moderates' proposal includes funds for state and local governments, unemployment insurance, the Paycheck Protection Program and vaccine development and distribution, among other things. It also would provide short-term protection for businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits to give states time to develop their own liability-protection rules.


Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump censure faces tough odds in Senate Humanist Report host criticizes 'conservative Democrats:' They 'hold more power' than progressives McConnell: Sinema told me she won't nix the filibuster MORE (D-W.Va.), an author of the proposal, told HuffPost the priority was to prevent assistance programs from expiring, but that he hopes another round of direct payments is enacted once President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat touts resolution to expel Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress Science denialism in the new administration Jill Biden to offer input on helping reunite separated immigrant families: report MORE takes office.

President-elect Joe Biden said Friday that he thinks a relief package "would be better if they had the $1,200" and said "that may still be in play." But Biden also said that it's important to get a relief package on which an agreement can be reached.

"You got to find the sweet spot where you have enough people willing to move in a direction that gets us a long way down the road but isn't the whole answer," he said.

Updated at 4:32 p.m.