Senators Propose Bold Plan to Lift Up Families Hurt by Crisis
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the economic fallout of the novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak escalates, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and her Senate colleagues sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer outlining a bold new proposal to provide Americans with direct cash payments.
“Over the course of just one week, most of America went from business-as-usual to a virtual shutdown. Workers have seen their hours cut or eliminated entirely, and millions of American families are assessing how they will weather a potentially long-lasting economic paralysis,” wrote the Senators in the letter. “We must provide direct cash support to the American workers and families who need it most – to help them purchase essentials; pay the rent, mortgage, and bills; and otherwise weather the coming weeks and months.”
In the letter, the Senators outline a proposal to provide a $2,000 immediate cash payment to every adult, child (or non-child dependent), and recipient of Social Security, Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The proposal calls for additional cash payments should the public health crisis extend, or if unemployment rate increases. The payments would phase-out for higher-income taxpayers.
This new proposal would build on Senate Democrats’ plan to provide comprehensive economic relief to Americans and businesses during this unprecedented public health and economic crisis. Ensuring that families have cash to meet their expenses will also help businesses hurting from lack of demand. The proposal includes:
Additional Quarterly Payments:
The letter was led by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Angus S. King, Jr. (I-ME). The letter was also signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tom Udall (D-NM), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Gary Peters (D-MI).
The text of the letter is available here and below.
Dear Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer:
In addition to presenting a massive public health challenge, the Coronavirus will cause a severe economic shock, the immediacy and magnitude of which we may never have seen. Over the course of just one week, most of America went from business-as-usual to a virtual shutdown. Workers have seen their hours cut or eliminated entirely, and millions of American families are assessing how they will weather a potentially long-lasting economic paralysis.
We must provide direct cash support to the American workers and families who need it most – to help them purchase essentials; pay the rent, mortgage, and bills; and otherwise weather the coming weeks and months.
We believe it is essential to provide assistance directly and quickly. Regardless of how fast Congress acts, there will be a lag between action and support arriving to workers and businesses, and every day we delay action will be a delay in support arriving. Now is not the time for a “wait-and-see” mentality.
We propose sending payments quarterly and directly to American families. The first payment would be $2,000 per American to account for the immediacy of the shock, with subsequent payments stepping down over time and the duration of payments tied to subsequent economic triggers. Payments will only completely shut off after unemployment drops to less than 0.5 percentage points above the levels that prevailed before the Coronavirus-induced economic damage. Attached to this letter is a more detailed outline of our proposal.
This moment demands bold action. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is a vital first step to delivering immediate assistance to workers and families, providing testing, paid sick leave, support for state unemployment divisions, food assistance, and health care support for states through Medicaid. In addition to passing this critical legislation, we must provide additional support to the hardest-hit individuals, small businesses, as well as state and local governments. We fully support the plans being developed by Democratic Leadership to strengthen critical programs, including an expansion of unemployment benefits with increased federal financing, as well as broadened eligibility to include gig workers, contractors, tipped workers, and others who are currently left out. All of the changes being developed by the Democratic Leadership are necessary. These economic support payments are intended to supplement that plan.
During a crisis of this magnitude, it is imperative we put forward a response commensurate with the challenge we face. We urge you to consider this proposal and look forward to working with you to pass it as soon as possible.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if we can be of assistance.