Two Republican senators introduced a new bill to help fix one of the glaring errors in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed in March to help even more Americans get access to the one-time coronavirus stimulus check included in the law. While there were some groups intentionally excluded from receiving a payment, like couples who earn more than $150,000 a year, others were not. Thanks to an oversight, families with a non-citizen parent received nothing under the original law, a mistake the new bill would fix.
When the IRS began sending out the CARES Act's Economic Impact Payments in mid-April, many noticed that Americans married to immigrants might not qualify. Only married couples where both spouses had Social Security Numbers were eligible for the stimulus check. In other words, even if a family of five earned less than $150,000, they would be ineligible for any payment if one spouse did not have an SSN, notes Forbes. House Democrats sought to fix this in the HEROES Act passed in May, by making it so all anyone needed for a second payment was an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to be eligible.
Since the HEROES Act has only passed the House and is unlikely to ever be voted on in the Senate, this issue seemed like something that would go unfixed. However, this week, Sens. Marco Rubio and Thom Tillis introduced the American Citizen Coronavirus Relief Act to fix the issue. "A U.S. citizen should not be denied federal coronavirus assistance because they married a foreign national that is not presently a citizen of the United States," the bill's text reads. "The American Citizen Coronavirus Relief Act maintains the SSN requirement but would allow U.S. citizens to receive EIPs the same as they would as a single tax filer."
Under the new bill, a family would not be deprived of a stimulus check, but the non-citizen would not qualify. So a family of five with a non-citizen parent would receive $2,700, or $1,200 for the citizen parent and $500 per dependent under 17. The non-citizen parent would not receive the $1,200 stimulus check. "In March I worked to pass the bipartisan CARES Act to provide economic stimulus payments to North Carolinians as we battle this pandemic," Tillis said in a statement. "Every eligible citizen deserves this payment and I am proud to introduce legislation with Senator Rubio to fix this oversight."
Tillis and Rubio's proposal comes as Washington considers another stimulus package while the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb across the country. Earlier this month, Sen. John Thune told CBS News Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was considering a "July time frame" for working on the next bill. However, the Senate will begin a two-week July 4 recess on July 3, giving senators only two weeks before an August recess on Aug. 8.