by Christy Bieber | Jan. 26, 2021
Could the next coronavirus stimulus check be just the start of the payments you receive?
President Joe Biden has made coronavirus relief one of his first priorities as he enters office. Even before being sworn in, the incoming president announced a $1.9 billion COVID-19 stimulus plan. His proposal included, among other things, $1,400 checks.
The $1,400 that Biden wants to deposit into Americans' bank accounts is part of the Democrat's plan to fulfill a promise for $2,000 checks. See, a $900 billion stimulus package passed at the end of December provided $600 checks to eligible Americans. But Democrats wanted to increase that amount, so Biden's plan would authorize another $1,400. Combined with the existing $600, people would receive $2,000 in total.
Some progressives, however, believe this is not enough. In fact, a number of key figures on the left -- including Vice President Kamala Harris -- have previously suggested Americans should receive payments of $2,000 per month for the duration of the pandemic.
Last May, then-Senator Kamala Harris introduced a bill along with two other progressive senators: Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Ed Markey of Massachusetts.
The bill would've provided payments of $2,000 per person per month for the duration of the pandemic. Anyone earning less than $120,000 a year would have been eligible for some additional monthly income. And the $2,000 would've been available for eligible adults as well as up to three child dependents.
The bill did not pass and, in fact, was dead on arrival in a Republican-controlled Senate. However, in a recent statement, Senator Markey urged Congress to take up his proposal to provide this money to those who need it.
Markey spoke out after Biden announced his relief bill, suggesting the incoming president's plan was a good start but needed to go further. "The $1,400 in direct cash assistance is a down payment that will help families make rent, put food on the table, and pay the utility bills after Senate Republicans blocked that additional funding back in December," Markey said. "But we must still pass my legislation with Senator Bernie Sanders to provide $2,000 monthly payments to working people through the duration of the pandemic."
If passed, Markey's plan would make the $2,000 monthly payments retroactive to March of 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic first necessitated lockdowns in the United States. The money would also continue for three months after the crisis has ended to give people time to get back on their feet.
Markey is urging a revival of his bill as Democrats take control of Congress and the Executive branch. "I have been fighting for $2,000 monthly checks since the beginning of the pandemic and I'm not about to stop in the new Congress," he said in said a Jan. 15 tweet, with similar sentiments echoed throughout the month.
Democrats have much more leverage to pass their agenda than they did under Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Senate. However, Markey's call for regular $2,000 checks is likely to be a hard sell. The legislation would need 60 votes to overcome a Senate filibuster and Democrats have just 50 of 100 seats. Vice President Harris can break ties, but it's unlikely any Republicans would vote for legislation that provided individuals with $2,000 per month on an ongoing basis.
And although there's a possibility Democrats will pass some version of Biden's coronavirus relief plan through a process called reconciliation, even this approach requires a bare majority of 51 votes. There are some conservative Democratic senators who have expressed concern over even one additional $2,000 payment, so they're very unlikely to sign on for ongoing large deposits.
Still, as coronavirus cases continue to spike nationwide and with the Democrats now in power, the public can expect some type of additional stimulus aid. Of course, a $1,400 payment may not provide the same financial relief as ongoing $2,000 payments. However, this money could still be a welcome relief to those who are struggling with COVID-19's continuing financial effects.
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