Dozens of House lawmakers, led by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), are calling for future coronavirus relief measures to include recurring stimulus payments that extend to those who have Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN), which includes illegal immigrants.
In a Thursday letter to President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the lawmakers said they are “appreciative” of the administration’s work to ensure that Americans receive another “survival” check as soon as possible. However, they believe that officials must take “additional unprecedented action” in the form of recurring cash payments in future economic relief plans. Such would “provide a longterm lifeline to struggling Americans for the duration of this deadly pandemic,” they wrote, citing “worsening systemic inequities.”
Both the CARES Act and the recently enacted relief package included a round of direct cash payments which provided critical relief to those who needed it most. Data show the CARES Act payments were the primary reason that poverty fell by as many as four million people at the start of the recession. These payments boosted the economy by increasing spending at all income levels, and the most among low-income people, who spent this infusion of disposable income primarily on food, rents, and utilities. This cash assistance was used very quickly, with lowerincome individuals spending more than forty percent of their payments within the first ten days. As aid ran out, up to eight million people, disproportionately Black and Latino adults and children, were forced into poverty.
The stunning financial crisis for those at the bottom of the income ladder demands massive relief to those who need it most. Recurring direct payments until the economy recovers will help ensure that people can meet their basic needs, provide racially equitable solutions, and shorten the length of the recession. As we look at the coming year, another one-time round of checks would provide a temporary lifeline, but when that money runs out, families will once again struggle to pay for basic necessities.
One more check, they continued, is simply “not enough,” adding that future relief legislation “must” include recurring cash payments that continue “until the economy recovers with equal payments to adults and dependents.” Additionally, the recurring payments must extend to “all immigrant workers, refugees, and their families (both ITIN filers and mixed-status households).”
“As the country begins to look towards building to a better future, we need to provide those struggling and left behind with consistent reliable cash payments during this COVID-19 crisis,” the lawmakers added.
“We hope that you will consider recurring cash assistance when crafting your economic policy priorities moving forward,” they said.
House cosigners include Reps. Cori Bush (D-MO), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), among others.
The letter follows mounting frustration among progressive members of Congress, who expressed concern over Biden’s coronavirus relief proposal, which only provides $1,400 checks rather than $2,000.
Biden’s team contended that the amount does match the $2,000 promised by Democrats when combined with the $600 checks provided in the $2.3 trillion government spending and coronavirus relief legislation signed by former President Trump last month. Nevertheless, progressive demands have continued to increase as they up their calls for $2,000 checks and demand that they become recurring, as emphasized in Thursday’s letter.
“Let’s not just give ordinary Americans a one-time $2,000 check. With our new majority and a worsening crisis, let’s meet the need: $2,000/month, every month, until this crisis is over,” Khanna said this month.