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Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., released the so-called Monthly Economic Support Act that would dramatically expand the one-time stimulus payments of $1,200 sent to most Americans as part of the massive relief package signed at the end of March.
Similar to a House bill proposed in mid-April, the senators called for $2,000 cash payments to every American who earns less than $120,000. it would expand to $4,000 for married couples and also provided an extra $2,000 for each child up to three.
The plan would be retroactive to March. Monthly payments would last until three months after the Health and Human Services Department has declared the public health emergency over.
It would bar debtors from collecting any of the money for repayments and would deliver the cash regardless of whether people have a Social Security number or filed taxes last year.
“The one-time $1,200 check that many Americans recently received is not nearly enough to pay the rent, put food on the table and make ends meet," Sanders, a two-time Democratic presidential candidate, said in a statement. "During this unprecedented crisis, Congress has a responsibility to make sure that every working-class household in America receives a $2,000 emergency payment a month for each family member."
The crisis has walloped Americans financially: In the six weeks since the majority of the country shut down to mitigate the spread of the virus, more than 30 million workers have lost their jobs. Unemployment at this scale hasn’t been recorded since the Great Depression, when the jobless rate peaked at 25 percent.
An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Wednesday revealed that 50 percent of Americans said they or someone in their household has either lost a job or had their hours reduced as a result of the virus outbreak. That is up from 18 percent a month ago.
The plan resembles a proposal introduced in mid-April by Democratic Reps. Ro Khanna and Tim Ryan. The Emergency Money for People Act would distribute $2,000 cash payments to every American age 16 or older who earns less than $130,000 annually. Families with children would receive $500 per child for up to three children.