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Progressives urge Biden to back recurring direct payments

Progressives urge Biden to back recurring direct payments
© Bonnie Cash

A group of House progressives is urging President Biden and Vice President Harris to support recurring direct payments in order to help people cover their basic expenses during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

"The stunning financial crisis for those at the bottom of the income ladder demands massive relief to those who need it most," the lawmakers said in a letter dated Thursday. "Recurring direct payments until the economy recovers will help ensure that people can meet their basic needs, provide racially equitable solutions, and shorten the length of the recession."

Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarBiden, first lady send 'warmest greetings' to Muslims for Ramadan Pelosi's advice for the 'Squad': 'You're not a one-person show' Biden is thinking about building that wall — and that's a good thing MORE (D-Minn.) took the lead on the letter, which was signed by more than 50 Democratic lawmakers.

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Biden released a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal earlier this month that included one-time direct payments of $1,400. The proposal comes after two rounds of direct payments were enacted in relief measures last year.

The House progressives said they were encouraged to see that Biden's proposal included direct cash assistance to Americans, but said that the administration should consider including recurring payments in future relief plans. They said that many families can't afford to go months between direct payments and need the certainty of ongoing relief.

"As the country begins to look towards building to a better future, we need to provide those struggling and left behind with consistent reliable cash payments during this COVID-19 crisis," the lawmakers wrote. "We hope that you will consider recurring cash assistance when crafting your economic policy priorities moving forward."

The lawmakers said that any relief package should include recurring payments whose eligibility is expanded to include adult dependents and all immigrant workers and their families.

Politico first reported on the letter.

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Progressives have pushed for recurring direct payments for months, but will face challenges in getting them included in a relief package. Republicans, as well as some moderate Democrats, have raised concerns about the overall price tag of relief proposals.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus's executive board on Wednesday sent a separate letter to congressional leaders urging them to pass a package that's at least as big as Biden's $1.9 trillion proposal. They pointed to recent comments from Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenWashington Post reporter explains how taxes in Biden infrastructure plan would affect multinational corporations Republicans can't handle the truth about taxes Biden eyes bigger US role in global vaccination efforts MORE in which she said that the risks of doing too little outweigh the risks of doing too much.

"President Biden’s rescue package, which comes in at $1.9 trillion, is a critical first step in meeting the economic need, but it is a minimum floor—determined by the needs of the American people in this dire moment," the Progressive Caucus's executive board wrote. "If anything, it must be strengthened, not weakened."