Senators Bernie Sanders and Josh Hawley are not on the same side of any issue anyone can imagine — except assuring the individual stimulus payments to taxpayers are included in either the pandemic relief bill or the government funding measure.
Both bills will be voted on this week and Sanders and Hawley are pressing their colleagues to vote for a $1200 individual payment to taxpayers.
The senators are calling for a second round of payments similar to the first that went out in the spring — $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. As with the first round, individuals who earn up to $75,000 would qualify for the full payments.
“I will insist that any agreement in terms of a Covid-19 relief package must include not only strong unemployment benefits, but a $1,200 direct payment for the working families of this country similarly structured to what was included in the CARES package of March,” Sanders said on the Senate floor Thursday.
Both senators believe the urgency to pass the individual stimulus is critical and think that waiting until January for the new Congress is unacceptable.
But with the nation facing a nightmare season of public-health and economic crises, Senate leadership and the White House are now rushing to hammer out a stimulus package before some 12 million Americans lose unemployment benefits on December 26. The current proposal from the White House is a $916 billion package involving $320 billion for aid to businesses; $160 billion in aide for state and local governments; $150 billion for unemployment insurance; $30 billion for airlines; and $16 billion for vaccine distribution and testing. Hawley, for one, said this week that direct relief is “vital” and that he has urged Trump to “veto any bill that did not have direct payments in it.”
The White House has proposed a $600 one-time payment to all taxpayers that almost no one on the Hill thinks will fly. The problem is that many Republican senators oppose any relief bill that costs more than a trillion dollars. The proposal on the table now is for $908 billion—and that doesn’t contain any money for individual payments. Including a $1200 payment to individuals would raise the cost of the bill to over $1.5 trillion. There may be a few GOP senators willing to sign off on a bill that size, but would Donald Trump veto it?
Trump has said he will sign a relief bill if it comes to his desk. I think he’ll keep that promise and give the American people what they need: $1200 payments from the IRS that would jump-start the recovery.