Progressives in the U.S. Congress are putting pressure on Republicans and moderate Democrats to include stimulus checks in the next coronavirus relief package, according to a Friday report from The Hill.
In March, Congress passed a bipartisan bill providing direct payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. Since then, ordinary Americans have received virtually no help from the government.
Earlier this month, lawmakers unveiled a $908 billion relief proposal.
The proposal, which is being pushed by moderate Democrats and some Republicans, calls for more funding for state and local governments, an expansion of unemployment insurance and various protections for businesses. However, it does not call for stimulus checks.
According to left-leaning lawmakers, they are absolutely necessary.
In a statement, Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said that he won’t support a package that doesn’t include stimulus checks.
“Tens of millions of Americans living in desperation today would receive absolutely no financial help from this proposal. That is not acceptable.”
In a tweet, Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan pointed to a poll from Gallup, which found that most Americans would like a second round of direct payments.
“A vaccine can hopefully save lives, but there’s no vaccine to save bank accounts, late housing payments, deteriorated health, or holes in local & state governments. The people were left behind by the current admin in a pandemic. Let’s not repeat the same mistake,” Tlaib wrote.
“The millions of people who are most desperately impacted need a check,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York told reporters.
President-elect Joe Biden said on Friday that a relief package “would be better if they had the $1,200,” but he expressed support for the $908 billion deal, arguing that it is important to “find the sweet spot” and make sure that Congress passes a bill soon.
The negotiations began months before the November 3 election. As Newsweek reported, at one point, President Donald Trump’s administration agreed to $1.9 trillion in aid. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi turned down the offer, asking for $2.2 trillion.
Pelosi’s refusal to accept the deal was seen by some as the main reason why Democrats came close to losing control of the lower chamber, even though polling suggested that they would win additional seats.
Pelosi was asked about this at a press conference on Friday. She pushed back against the suggestion that she made a mistake, saying that the situation has completely changed because vaccines have been developed and Trump is no longer president.