by Christy Bieber | Jan. 14, 2021
Joe Biden could get bipartisan support for a $2,000 check, with at least one Republican pushing for large direct payments.
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to introduce a stimulus proposal today that will put more money into the bank accounts of struggling families. Biden's proposal will likely call for adding another $1,400 to the $600 payments authorized by a $900 bill relief bill President Donald Trump signed into law at the end of December. The IRS is now distributing the $600 payments.
The incoming administration indicated recently that it would prefer to get bipartisan support for the next coronavirus relief bill rather than passing the legislation along party lines through reconciliation, which enables passing some bills with a slim 51-vote majority. And the new president may actually get his wish on a bipartisan bill, because one Republican senator has made known his preference for $2,000 checks.
Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, recently voiced his support for $2,000 direct payments to American families. In fact, Rubio sent a letter to the Biden administration and urged the new president to take action to provide these payments on his first day in office.
"It would send a powerful message to the American people if, on the first day of your presidency, you called on the House and Senate to send you legislation to increase the direct economic impact payments to Americans struggling due to the pandemic from $600 to $2,000," Rubio's letter stated.
Democrats made $2,000 checks a campaign issue after the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation authorizing these payments in December and the Republican-controlled Senate declined to take further action. However, with Rubio's letter, it's clear that providing these large direct payments is not just a priority for those on the left.
It's important to note that while President-elect Biden, Sen. Rubio, and other lawmakers use the phrase "$2,000 checks," this does not mean Americans will see an additional $2,000. The $900 billion coronavirus relief bill signed by Trump in December authorized the delivery of payments of $600 per adult and eligible dependent child, and the IRS has begun to deliver those. Lawmakers, including Rubio, want to boost these existing payments by $1,400, for a total payment of $2,000 that includes money that may have already been deposited into Americans' bank accounts.
In arguing for swift distribution of the extra $1,400, Rubio also wrote in his letter to Biden: "You have the ability to help break the paralysis in Washington by delivering desperately needed relief." He went on to say, "I implore you to rise above the rhetoric and deliver an increase in assistance for American families." His words suggest the senator hopes to avoid another protracted fight over stimulus payments, as it took around nine months for lawmakers to come to a deal on the last relief bill.
Rubio's clear support for another direct payment could be critical to the Biden administration's ability to pass legislation authorizing another $1,400 payment, because the Democrats have just 50 of 100 votes in the Senate (with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a tiebreaker). West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin expressed his reservations about such a large payment, and if Biden loses any Democratic votes, he will need at least one Republican in order to pass a relief bill, even through reconciliation.
Rubio may not be the only Republican supporting $2,000 checks, though. Trump initially argued for these payments, and others on the right, including Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, spoke in favor of them.
Ultimately, the details of any relief bill will determine how much, if any Republican support it receives. If the bill carries too high a price tag or includes Democratic priorities that are anathema to those on the right (such as large distributions of funds to state and local governments), even Republicans in favor of $2,000 checks may be unwilling to sign on.
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