Dozens of House Democrats sent a letter to President Biden asking the White House to push for recurring cash payments to Americans in future coronavirus relief proposals, pressuring the administration to go further in its plans to mitigate the economic fallout from the pandemic.
"We kindly request that your incoming administration consider including support for recurring cash payments in your future economic relief plans. Recurring payments would provide a longterm lifeline to struggling Americans for the duration of this deadly pandemic," 56 House Democrats, led by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, wrote in the letter.
Mr. Biden's current relief proposal includes a one-time direct payment of $1,400 to Americans earning under a certain threshold. The Democrats' letter did not specify a monetary amount for any potential recurring payments, but noted that the U.S. is currently in the midst of "the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."
"Worsening systemic inequities, such as food insecurity and housing instability, are most severe for Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities, who are suffering higher infection and mortality rates of COVID-19 and higher unemployment levels, compared to white Americans," the letter said. "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."
The members insist that recurring payments must continue until the economy recovers, and be prioritized for "those who need it most and will spend it the quickest." They also request that the payments go to immigrants and refugees, and also include older dependents such as the elderly and disabled and dependents above the age 16.
"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. We hope that you will consider recurring cash assistance when crafting your economic policy priorities moving forward," the letter said. Politico first reported the progressives' push for recurring payments.
Even if Mr. Biden were to express support for including recurring payments in future relief proposals, it is unclear whether congressional Republicans or even Democratic leadership would be willing to go along. Mr. Biden's current proposal is $1.9 trillion, and it is facing opposition from many Republicans in the Senate who have balked at the price tag. Democrats are considering passing the proposal using budget reconciliation, a procedure which would allow the legislation to pass in Congress with a simple majority of votes, without any Republican support.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that the House would bring a budget resolution to the floor next week, the first step in a budget reconciliation process.
"I hope we don't need it, but if needed we will have it," she said.