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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with several other top Democratic senators, rolled out a plan that would increase Social Security benefits for Americans amid the coronavirus outbreak rocking the nation.
Schumer, D-N.Y., Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., unveiled the plan Saturday, which would increase the monthly amount for those receiving Social Security, Veterans, and Supplemental Security Income benefits by $200 through 2021.
The senators said the measure would help to stabilize the economy, and give seniors, veterans and people with disabilities an additional $4,000 over the next two years.
“Immediately increasing Social Security benefits would put money in the pockets of seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities during these uncertain times,” Schumer said in a statement Saturday. “Senate Democrats are committed to quickly delivering relief to the millions of Americans bearing the weight of this public health crisis.”
The measure would also protect Social Security recipients from losing access to other assistance programs, and would be covered by “wealthier Americans” who would “pay back some of the added benefit with their taxes.”
“Increasing Social Security benefits would get money directly to millions of people quickly, delivering immediate relief to Americans at heightened risk during this pandemic and boosting our economy,” Warren said. “Social Security was created to respond to the Great Depression, and expanding it now will ensure this critical program helps us meet the challenge of the current crisis.”
The plan is included as part of Senate Democrats’ proposal for the third stimulus amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which would be at least $750 billion.
Schumer, Warren and other Senate Democrats also hoped to include a plan that would cancel student loan payments for the duration fo the coronavirus national emergency, with no penalty and no interest.
President Trump, on Friday, said he had directed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to do just that, and contact federal lenders to give them the OK to allow student borrowers to suspend their payments with no penalty for at least 60 days.
The president announced earlier this week that he had waived interest on federal student loans “until further notice,” but took that measure to the next level Friday by suspending payments.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans and Democrats are huddling with members of the White House economic team and the Trump administration Saturday to resume negotiations on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposed stimulus package.
The draft legislation, obtained by Fox News, would provide payments of up to $1,200 per person. They would be phased down at adjusted gross income thresholds of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 per couple. Additionally, there would be $500 payments for each child.
The amount, though, is slated to then be reduced by $5 for each $100 a taxpayer’s income exceeds the legislation’s threshold. The amount is reduced to zero for single taxpayers with incomes exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers.
The legislation also outlined $300 billion for small businesses to keep furloughed and laid-off workers on the payroll and $208 billion in loans to airlines and other industries.
Some Republicans have objected to certain measures outlined in the bill, and most Democrats, including Schumer, have sounded the alarm saying the measure does not go far enough in protecting American families, and is too focused on corporations.
The Senate is slated to hold a vote on draft legislation on Sunday, after receiving direction from the White House that some sort of measure should be passed early next week.