Democratic Representatives Ro Khanna and Tim Ryan unveiled legislation on Friday to send checks to 200 million Americans as a way of counteracting the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The checks would be worth one to six thousand dollars and would be sent to all Americans who made less than $65,000 last year.
If the bill is passed, about three-quarters of American adults would start receiving checks within three weeks, arriving once a month for the remainder of 2020.
The bill is one of many proposals being considered by Congress to provide relief to the economy amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which threatens to shut down swaths of American industry indefinitely.
A payroll tax can't put enough money into the pockets of the working class, the unemployed, or the gig economy.
— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) March 13, 2020
Earlier this week, the Federal Reserve injected $1.5 trillion into markets as the stock market took a historic plummet.
“If we can afford to pump $1.5 trillion into lending markets, then we can afford this solution to help every American,” Khanna, who serves a co-chair of Senator Bernie Sanders‘ presidential campaign, said in a press release Friday.
Ryan, a former 2020 presidential candidate, noted that nearly half of American workers cannot afford a $400 emergency.
“As more folks are staying in and taking necessary steps to avoid spread of the coronavirus, more Americans will struggle to cover basic needs like rent, groceries, and medicines,” the Congressman said.
“We can’t have Americans choosing between losing a paycheck or a job and taking the necessary precautions to keep their families safe.”
The monthly payments would be classified as an emergency Earned Income Tax Credit and would function similarly to a universal basic income.
“Americans most likely to be impacted by the public health crisis – including hourly workers, independent contractors, and gig workers – would get a much-needed emergency boost during this economic downturn,” the representatives said.
Khanna and Ryan said they hope House leadership will consider their proposal in the coming weeks.
On Friday, the House was preparing its first stimulus package proposal that Speaker Nancy Pelosi said is “focused directly on providing support for America’s families.”
The bill is expected to include paid sick leave and expanded unemployment insurance, though it is unclear if Senate Republicans and President Donald Trump will approve those measures.
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