October 5, 2023

Eleven Senate Democrats are urging President Joe Biden to include recurring direct payments and improved unemployment benefits in the stimulus plan he will attempt to pass this year.

In a letter to the president announced on Tuesday, lawmakers said Congress should not stop providing additional support to workers while the economy bounces back from Covid. Although the senators didn’t say what the payments should be or how often they should come, they hope the aid won’t run out until the job market improves.

“This crisis is far from over, and families deserve the assurance that they can put food on the table and have a roof over their heads,” wrote the senators. “Families shouldn’t be at the mercy of constantly changing legal deadlines and ad hoc solutions.”

Biden is expected to outline his recovery plan in the coming weeks after Congress passed the Democrats’ $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus bailout package. The proposal is expected to include plans to upgrade U.S. infrastructure and boost manufacturing as the country tries to regain its footing after the pandemic.

The eleven senators believe households also need more direct help to get to the other side of the crisis. The letter was received from the Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Ron Wyden, D-Ore., The Senate Budget Committee Chairman, Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., The Senate Banking Committee Chairman, Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, D-, supported. Mass., Sen. Cory Booker, DN.J., Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, DN.Y., Sen. Alex Padilla, D- Calif. And Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during a press conference at the US Capitol on July 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. Sanders, chairman of the committee, has expressed disagreement with the House legislative proposal to resolve issues with the Department of Veterans Affairs and with House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL).

Win McNamee | Getty Images

Democrats, who closely control both houses of Congress, would have to pass the legislation by budget vote. They’re leveraging the process of allowing them to approve bills with no Republicans in the Senate to pass their coronavirus relief plan.

It is currently unclear whether the recurring payments could win the support of the most conservative Senate Democrats. The party needs every member on board to win a simple majority in the 50:50 Senate. Sens. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Have raised concerns about the size of the $ 1,400 direct payments and the $ 15 an hour minimum wage originally included in the pandemic relief bill.

Senate Democrats led by Wyden have called for the benefits to persist until the economy improves. They don’t want Americans to suddenly experience a loss of support like they did last summer when extended unemployment insurance went out.

A $ 300 per week unemployment benefit allowance approved in December and provisions to expand unemployment insurance to an additional million Americans officially expire on March 14, increasing unemployment benefits to $ 400 per week and maintaining unemployment programs through August 29.

Republicans have spoken out against major spending as part of the current coronavirus aid package. Before the House passed the $ 1.9 trillion bill early Saturday, they argued that their peers included lavish spending that was not needed to reopen businesses and schools.

No House Republicans voted for the legislation. So far, no GOP senators have supported the bill.

Disagreements have emerged among Democrats over how much US economic policy needs to be rewritten in response to the pandemic. The House passed a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour as part of the bailout package, but Senate-ruled lawmakers could not include it in the chamber’s budget balancing rules.

Democrats considered imposing tax penalties instead on companies that don’t pay workers at least $ 15, but abandoned the idea fearing it could delay the passage of the law. Sanders and other progressives have urged Democrats to ignore or override the MP, a nominated bipartisan official.

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