WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the nation’s unemployment rate climbs to figures not seen since the Great Depression—and following more than 20 million people losing their jobs in April alone—U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) led a bicameral letter to U.S. Senate and House of Representatives leaders urging the adoption in any upcoming coronavirus legislation of recurring monthly cash payments to those most at-risk during the COVID-19 crisis.
Rep. Tlaib was joined in leading the letter, which is an update to one that was sent in April, by U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), and U.S. Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). An additional 77 congressional colleagues joined them in sending the letter, which was delivered to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Monday. The bi-cameral group stressed the importance of lawmakers ensuring people are able to meet their basic needs for the duration of this crisis.
“We know that low-income people are disproportionately at risk of being uninsured or underinsured and lack the resources to prepare and protect themselves against the COVID-19 pandemic. That means a rent increase, additional childcare, tuition check, or even a blown tire can upset a family’s ability to stock their pantry or seek necessary medical care,” the group wrote. “It is important that we lift-up unbanked and underbanked communities by creating a buffer for people who have seen their costs of living rise for decades as their wages have stagnated.”
“Simply put—people need more money in their pockets, and sending monthly payments to workers and families is the fastest and most direct way to address that need. Now is not a time for timid solutions. In the face of an unprecedented moment in economic history and public health, we need to offer bigger, bolder and far more aggressive policies,” the letter continues.
Additional U.S. Senators who signed the letter were Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). A complete list of signers from the House and the full letter can be viewed here.
“As Congress considers the next relief package, monthly payments must be part of the equation,” said Natalie Foster, co-chair of Economic Security Project. “Alongside other important programs, cash payments give families an income floor so that no American is one missed paycheck away from living on the street. We’re glad that there’s growing support for direct payments both inside Congress and among the broader public.”