Progressive Lawmakers Fight For Bigger Stimulus As Legislators Propose $600 Package
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who said the stimulus is "hardly sufficient," proposes larger package and student loan forgiveness.
December 20, 2020 at 7:42 pm
As lawmakers focus on a proposed COVID-19 economic relief package, which would provide a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefits and $600 direct stimulus payments to most Americans, some legislators are considering the plan an insult.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who is one of the most vocal opponents of the package, said the stimulus is "hardly sufficient."
"Our families deserve real survival checks. Six hundred dollars is hardly sufficient. It is an insult. We must act to save lives now," the Massachusetts representative said, speaking on the House floor Thursday.
Pressley raised concerns about underserved groups in particular, who have been struggling to survive the pandemic without much help from the government.
"Four hundred and fifty pennies a day for the last nine months. That's what our government has sent the American people to weather this crisis," the congresswoman said. "And nothing for the immigrant families who drive our essential workforce. It didn't have to be this way."
According to MSN, other progressive lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, are also pushing for a bigger stimulus. Sanders said the $900 billion budget limit for the next COVID-19 relief package is "much too low." Sen. Josh Hawley is advocating for a stimulus check of at least $1,200, the same amount as the package which was distributed in April.
However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have advocated for a $600 package, The Hill reported. According to The Washington Post, White House aides recently intervened when President Donald Trump tried to push for at least $1,200 per person. The president has blamed Democrats for the delay.
“Right now, I want to see checks — for more money than they’re talking about — going to people,” Trump told Fox News. “I’m pushing it very hard, and to be honest with you, if the Democrats really wanted to do the deal, they’d do the deal.”
While lawmakers deliberate on the stimulus package, progressive legislatures are also focusing on President-elect Joe Biden's economic relief plan. According to Vox, Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alma Adams and Maxine Waters are introducing a resolution which calls on Biden to forgive up to $50,000 of federal debt for student loan borrowers.
“The student debt crisis is a racial and economic justice issue and we must finally begin to address it as such,” Pressley said in a statement. “Broad-based student debt cancellation is precisely the kind of bold, high-impact policy that the broad and diverse coalition that elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris expect them to deliver.”
According to Vox, 45 million Americans owe a total of about $1.6 trillion in student loans, with the Federal Reserve estimating an average monthly payment of $200 to $299 per borrower.
As for the COVID-19 relief package, negotiators are expecting an agreement on Sunday night, ABC7 reported.
"I am very hopeful that we get this done today," McCarthy told Fox News' Channel's Sunday Morning Futures.
The proposed package comes at a time when the coronavirus is resurging across the country amid looming shutdowns, with some states having already reverted to early pandemic relief measures.