Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks while Senator Bernie Sanders watches.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
More Senate Democrats are putting pressure on President Joe Biden to extend bailout efforts as the US recovers from coronavirus-induced economic drubbing.
Twenty-one members of the Senate’s Democratic caucus wrote to the president Tuesday asking him to add recurring direct payments and enhanced unemployment benefits to his recovery plan.
The senators, led by the chairman of the finance committee, Ron Wyden of Oregon, want to tie the aid to the economic conditions so that the aid does not expire too soon.
“This crisis is far from over, and families deserve the assurance that they can put food on the table and have a roof over their heads,” wrote the senators. “Families shouldn’t be at the mercy of constantly changing legal deadlines and ad hoc solutions.”
Wyden has long called for Congress to phase out support when the economy improves so that Americans don’t lose their performance on arbitrary dates chosen by lawmakers. The Democrats included a $ 300 per week jobless allowance and $ 1,400 direct payments through September 6 as part of their coronavirus relief package passed earlier this month.
Wyden wants to avoid repeating what happened last summer when an unemployment benefit hike came to an end and helped put millions of Americans into poverty. As the labor market continues to move back towards prepandemic, many lawmakers fear that existing relief efforts will not go far enough while around 19 million people are receiving some form of unemployment benefit.
Senators who signed the letter include Wyden, Senate Democrat No. 2 Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Chairman of the Budget Committee Bernie Sanders, an independent Vermonter who negotiates with Democrats, the Chairman of the Banking Committee Sherrod Brown, D -Ohio, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
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Biden plans to unveil his infrastructure and stimulus package in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The government and the Democrats will decide whether to split spending of $ 3 trillion or more into two pieces of legislation.
Democrats will have two priorities: a pool of proposals related to transport, broadband and climate change; and another tied to education, paid vacation, and health care. With policymakers puzzling over how much taxes to raise to fund the initiatives and considering whether part of the plan can win Republican votes, it’s unclear whether Senators can include more economic aid in the package.
A White House spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the letter.
Congressional Democrats are expected to pass at least part of the recovery plan through a budget vote that would not require Republican Senate votes that would be split 50-50 by party. The White House hopes to win GOP support for infrastructure policy.
While Republicans support measures to improve traffic and broadband, they have spoken out against tax increases.
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