As President Joe Biden works to fulfill his promise to boost the amount of the previously approved $600 stimulus checks, a growing number of lawmakers are calling on him to offer recurring $2,000 payments. In a letter directed to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris Thursday, more than 50 House lawmakers urged the new administration to take more drastic and immediate steps to aid Americans.
Drafted and signed by Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, the letter said that while the signees are "appreciative of your ongoing work to make sure the American people receive survival checks as soon as possible," it has become clear "during this unprecedented time in our nation's history that we must take additional unprecedented action." Also signed by Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the letter went on to request that the Biden-Harris administration considers including support for recurring cash payments, which would "provide a long-term lifeline to struggling Americans" for the duration of the pandemic, in "future economic relief plans." Although the letter did not specify an amount for the recurring payments, Omar and other progressives have long called for monthly $2,000 checks.
"The stunning financial crisis for those at the bottom of the income ladder demands massive relief to those who need it most. 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 letter continued in part. "As we look at the coming year, another one-time round of checks would provide a temporary lifeline, but when that money runs out, families will once again struggle to pay for basic necessities. One more check is not enough during this public health and economic crisis."
The signees said that recurring payments must continue until the economy recovers, be of equal amount for both adults and independents, and should "prioritize those who need it most and will spend it the quickest." The letter also said the checks should go to "all immigrant workers, refugees, and their families," which would include people who file federal taxes but are not legally authorized to work in the U.S. The signees also called for "improved administrative outreach and communication at the state and local level to ensure families are aware of payments." They said, "we need to provide those struggling and left behind with consistent, reliable cash payments during this COVID-19 crisis."
The letter comes as Biden works to rally bipartisan support for his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. The plan, among other things, calls for a third stimulus check of up to $1,400, acting as a boost to the $600 stimulus checks recently distributed and bringing the total amount to $2,000. The bill would also expand the stimulus qualifications to include dependents of any age and families with mixed-status citizenship.