While Congress and the White House negotiate the next coronavirus stimulus package, four Republican senators have proposed a new bill that would focus on delivering a stimulus check to families in the interim. The bill, called the Coronavirus Assistance for American Families Act, was introduced by Sens. Bill Cassiday of Louisiana, Marco Rubio of Florida, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Steve Daines of Montana. It would send $1,000 stimulus checks to individuals and $1,000 to eligible children.
The bill's $1,000 payment to individuals is less than the $1,200 payment included in the CARES Act and the proposed HEALS Act, but this would provide more money per child. For example, a family of four would get $4,000. By comparison, the CARES Act's economic impact payment program only sent $500 to dependents under 17.
According to the senators' press release, the act will send $1,000 to adults and children with Social Security Numbers, no matter the age. Adult dependents, including college students and those with disabilities will be eligible. U.S. citizens married to foreign nationals will be eligible, fixing a loophole found in the CARES Act program. However, foreign nationals and those with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) but no Social Security Number will not be eligible.
Like the CARES Act's program, the payment would be adjusted based on adjusted gross income. The amount would be slashed by 5% if an individual's income is over $75,000, a couple's income is $150,000, and if the head of household's income is over $112,500. "This policy prioritizes families by expanding assistance through an increased child benefit so that a family of four would receive $600 more than under the CARES Act, and also provides greater assistance to single parents with multiple children, who face additional economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic," the one-page summary of the bill notes.
In his statement, Rubio said Congress "should prioritize direct assistance to those who need it most" while they are focused on negotiating. "American families are among the hardest hit, facing unexpected challenges like homeschooling, child care shortages, and unemployment," Rubio added. "Congress must take steps to help ensure that parents and children are able to manage and recover from the impact of this crisis as the American people continue to navigate these uncertain times."
The HEALS (Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and School) Act, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday, does include a $1,200 stimulus payment similar to the CARES Act. The income threshold was lowered from $99,000 to $75,000, meaning any individual who makes over $75,000 is ineligible for payment. There are still significant differences between Senate Republicans, Democrats and the White House that have to be worked out before the HEALS Act could be passed.