As President Joe Biden prepares to unveil the initial phase of his "Build Back Better" plan on Wednesday, 21 members of the Senate Democratic caucus on Tuesday called on him to include recurring direct payments and other benefits in the jobs and infrastructure proposal for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Polling shows 65% of Americans support recurring cash payments 'for the duration of the pandemic.' This includes support from 54% of Republicans and 60% of independents."
"While we are pleased that the American Rescue Plan included a one-time direct payment and an extension of federal unemployment insurance programs, a single direct payment will not last long for most families," the senators—led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)—wrote in a letter (pdf). "We are worried about the cliff facing unemployed workers when the unemployment insurance extensions expire on September 6."
"This crisis is far from over, and families deserve certainty that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads," the letter states. "Families should not be at the mercy of constantly shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions."
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the coronavirus relief and recovery bill signed into law earlier this month by Biden, includes $1,400 one-time stimulus payments plus $400 in weekly unemployment benefit supplements for qualified individuals.
New: 21 Democratic senators, led by Finance Committee Chairman @RonWyden, write a letter asking President Biden to "include recurring direct payments and automatic unemployment insurance extensions tied to economic conditions in your Build Back Better long-term economic plan." pic.twitter.com/mWSNImQHbU
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) March 30, 2021
The letter lists several reasons for recurring payments and enhanced unemployment insurance. "First, these two forms of payments are effective together. Unemployment insurance has replaced lost income for millions who have lost their jobs," it says.
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"Second, data shows that direct payments and enhanced unemployment insurance are among the most effective forms of relief available," the letter continues. "Not only do these payments help keep families out of poverty, but they act as economic stimulus by increasing spending and supporting jobs."
"Third, recurring direct payments have wide support from both the general public and economic experts," it states. "Polling shows 65% of Americans support recurring cash payments 'for the duration of the pandemic.' This includes support from 54% of Republicans and 60% of independents."
"As you have said, now is the time for boldness," the letter concludes. "As you prepare your Build Back Better plan for long-term economic recovery, know that we are ready to work with you in support of recurring direct checks and extended unemployment insurance benefits to support Americans who are still struggling during the pandemic."
Along with Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, senators who signed the letter include Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.).
This isn't the first time that senators have called on Biden to make recurring payments part of his Build Back Better plan. Earlier this month, Wyden, Sanders, Brown, and others sent the president a similar letter urging the move until the pandemic is over.