Key point: Biden does not appear to be ready for another large stimulus checks, but he does want to spend trillions on infrastructure, college, and family-related care. Here is how Progressives are pushing him for even more.
A growing number of congressional Democrats are lining up behind the effort to push the Biden administration to approve a fourth round of stimulus checks, a measure that President Joe Biden has not publicly rejected.
House Democrats have been largely consistent since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic over their messaging, as more than fifty lawmakers have called on Biden to advocate for recurring payments.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) led the House’s effort for recurring payments in January, arguing in a statement to the president with colleagues, “A one-time payment of $2,000 is simply not enough. The American people are counting on us to deliver transformative change, and we need to meet the moment by delivering monthly payments of $2,000.”
Other House Democrats involved in the push include Reps. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Mondaire Jones (N.Y.) , Ro Khanna (Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Jamie Raskin (Md.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ritchie Torres (N.Y.).
Jayapal and Tlaib recently reintroduced the BOOST to Communities Act that would not only provide a fourth direct payment of $2,000, but also send $1,000 direct payments to Americans until the pandemic ends. The bill has nearly ten co-sponsors, including Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley.
Less than 50 percent of Senate Democrats support a fourth stimulus check, indicating an uphill battle for the program if it ever hits the upper chamber. In a letter signed by twenty-one Senators, the lawmakers wrote to Biden saying, “We urge you to include recurring direct payments and automatic unemployment insurance extensions tied to economic conditions in your Build Back Better long-term economic plan.”
“This crisis is far from over, and families deserve certainty that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. Families should not be at the mercy of constantly-shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions,” the group of Senate Democrats wrote.
Democratic lawmakers who joined the effort include Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), as well as Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with Democrats.
And Biden hasn’t indicated whether he would back recurring payments or a fourth stimulus check. The White House’s American Families Plan aims to help the nation recover from the pandemic, but doesn’t include another round of stimulus payments. Instead, Biden proposes to expand the child tax credit through 2025 and to make the enhanced earned income tax credit permanent, among other stimulus-related items. But Biden’s $1.8 trillion plan pumping federal aid into education, childcare and paid family leave will face major pushback from Republicans, as GOP lawmakers balk at supporting big-spending measures.
With the GOP opposition, it’s unlikely that a fourth stimulus check would pass in the Senate. But there are other forms of direct relief that may see success on Capitol Hill, including a recent effort from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) to establish the Parent Tax Credit, or a tax cut of up to $12,000 per year for parents who are trying to start a family or need a stronger financial foundation on which to raise children.
If Democrats decide to squeeze through Biden’s policy agenda by budget reconciliation in the Senate, only a simple majority is needed and most of the president’s proposal will likely be passed. It’s unclear, though, whether Democrats will use the legislative procedure that bypasses a Senate filibuster, as several key Democratic votes in the upper chamber have voiced opposition to helping another partisan initiative to pass legislation.
Rachel Bucchino is a reporter at the National Interest. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report and The Hill. This first appeared earlier and is being reposted due to reader interest.