Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) makes his way to a meeting on Tuesday, December 15, 2020. (Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Amid Mounting Progressive Pressure, Congressional Leaders Reportedly Planning to Include Direct Payments in Relief Package

"I will not vote for a Covid package that doesn't include survival payments and unemployment relief for the American people. It's a red line," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Jake Johnson

Congressional leaders are reportedly planning to include another round of direct payments to struggling Americans as part of a $900 billion coronavirus relief agreement that could be finalized Wednesday, a development that comes after progressives ramped up their demand for additional stimulus checks as a necessary component of any deal.

"The Progressive Caucus is united in our position: any Covid relief package must include survival checks and enhanced unemployment assistance—the two most effective ways to put money directly in people's pockets."
—Rep. Pramila Jayapal

Citing multiple unnamed sources involved in the rapidly moving talks, Politico reported Wednesday that "congressional negotiators are on the brink of a coronavirus rescue package that would include a second round of direct payments, but would likely leave out state and local funding and a liability shield."

The size of the direct payments under consideration is not yet fully clear, but Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters that negotiators are considering checks amounting to between $600 and $700 per person.

According to the Washington Post, "the addition of the stimulus checks is expected to come in part by reducing the amount of unemployment aid."

"Congressional leadership has told other lawmakers that they are planning on reducing the number of unemployment benefits by one month from the bipartisan plan," the Post reported. The plan is expected to include a $300-per-week federal boost to unemployment benefits.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has demanded one-time payments of $1,200 per working-class adult and $500 per child, while members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) have called for payments of at least $2,000.

In an appearance on MSNBC Wednesday, the Vermont senator applauded news that direct payments will likely be included in the final relief package. If the deal includes $600 per adult and $600 per child, Sanders noted, "that would be 2,400 bucks" for a working-class family of four.

"But we have got to do more," Sanders said. "We have got to do more because the working class of this country, frankly, is in worse shape economically than at any time since the Great Depression."

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) told the New York Times he is "glad that leadership listened to Sen. Sanders and progressive colleagues."

"We now have the benchmark that any future Covid deal has to have direct payments," said Khanna. "While we obviously need more, $600 a person is a step in the right direction."

A $908 billion bipartisan package that has served as a starting point for the ongoing negotiations did not include direct payments, a form of relief that is overwhelmingly popular with the U.S. public.

"I will not vote for a Covid package that doesn't include survival payments and unemployment relief for the American people," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a CPC member, tweeted late Tuesday. "It's a red line. It's also common sense."

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the newly elected chair of the CPC, said Tuesday that "the Progressive Caucus is united in our position: any Covid relief package must include survival checks and enhanced unemployment assistance—the two most effective ways to put money directly in people's pockets."

The apparent breakthrough in long-stagnant coronavirus relief negotiations followed a pair of meetings Tuesday between Democratic and Republican congressional leaders, talks that came days before the government is set to shut down without passage of a sprawling year-end funding bill. Lawmakers are seeking to attach a Covid-19 relief package to the legislation, which must pass by Friday night.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·


'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·


To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo