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Reps. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Ro Khanna, D-Calif., introduced on Tuesday the Emergency Money for the People Act which wants to give millions of Americans $2,000 per month during the coronavirus pandemic. The lawmakers argue that with the record numbers of Americans unemployed, the one-time payment from the CARES Act is not sufficient.
“A one-time, twelve hundred dollar check isn’t going to cut it,” Khanna said in a statement. “Americans need sustained cash infusions for the duration of this crisis in order to come out on the other side alive, healthy, and ready to get back to work."
The legislation would drastically expand not only the amount of money Americans would receive, but how many Americans would be eligible to qualify for the payments.
Under the CARES Act, people who file their taxes as individuals are eligible for a one-time payment of up to $1,200, and couples who file jointly are eligible for up to $2,400 plus an additional $500 per child under the age of 17.
The amount decreases for individuals who earn an adjusted gross income of more than $75,000 and couples who earn more than $150,000 a year, by $5 for every $100 in income above those marks. This means the payment is less the higher their earnings are, with it being reduced to zero for individuals who make $99,000 or more and couples who make $198,000 or more.
The Emergency Money for the People Act, however, wants to bump the payment to $2,000 every month until employment returns to pre-COVID-19 levels. Every American age 16 and older making less than $130,000 annually would be qualified to receive the money, and married couples earning less than $260,000 would receive at least $4,000 per month.
Qualifying families with children will receive an additional $500 per child, with families being eligible to receive funds for up to three children.
The bill would also ensure college students and adults with disabilities receive the payments, even if claimed as a dependent, unlike in the CARES Act.
Some 16.8 million Americans have lost their jobs in the last three weeks – meaning one in 10 working Americans is out of a job. The figures collectively constituted the largest and fastest string of job losses in records dating to 1948. By contrast, during the Great Recession, it took 44 weeks — roughly 10 months — for unemployment claims to go as high as they now have in less than a month.
“The economic impact of this virus is unprecedented for our country,” Ryan said. “As millions of Americans file for unemployment week over week, we have to work quickly to patch the dam — and that means putting cash in the hands of hard-working families.”
He added: “Now it’s time for Congress to get to work on the next step to provide relief for those who have been hardest hit in this pandemic.”