Sen. Josh Hawley introduced legislation to send another round of $1,200 stimulus checks for Americans modeled after the ones distributed under the CARES Act.
“Families are struggling. Unemployment claims are rising and food lines are growing. It’s time Congress finally acts,” Hawley said in a press release.
The latest $908 billion bipartisan stimulus framework omitted them, but relief talks are stalling and may collapse.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley unveiled legislation on Thursday to include a fresh wave of $1,200 stimulus checks in the next economic relief package. But talks are stalling as lawmakers struggle to resolve major differences ahead of a critical government funding deadline.
The plan from the Missouri senator is modeled after the initial wave of direct payments the federal government distributed to tens of millions of Americans through the CARES Act in March.
“Americans need direct payments now. Families are struggling. Unemployment claims are rising and food lines are growing. It’s time Congress finally acts,” Hawley said in a press release. “Direct payments should be at the center of any Covid relief legislation that Congress passes.”
Hawley has emerged as a leading advocate for stimulus checks among Republicans. He has urged President Donald Trump to veto a relief package if it didn’t contain the measure, Politico reported. Hawley expressed frustration this week that the latest $908 billion relief package from a bipartisan group of senators excluded them to keep its price tag below $1 trillion. The first wave of payments cost roughly $300 billion.
“I’m continuing to be flummoxed as to why there aren’t any direct payments. Everybody supported this in March,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday. “It’s the most useful, helpful, and frankly popular aspect.”
There’s also a growing drive among Democrats to include them, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders. Many economists say the checks aided people who needed extra cash because of a job loss or pandemic-related pay cut.
In March, Congress and President Donald Trump authorized $1,200 checks for millions of American taxpayers earning up to $75,000 annually, plus an extra $500 per child. The amount decreased until phasing out for people making above $99,000. Married couples earning up to $150,000 a year also qualified for the full payment.
Relief talks in Congress are hanging by a thread. They’re at risk of collapse because Republicans and Democrats have proved unable to settle longstanding differences on aid to state and local governments and a liability shield guarding businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits. Both issues have gummed up stimulus negotiations for months.
At a press conference on Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t appear to set a timeline for lawmakers to wrap up negotiations on virus relief and a broader federal spending bill. The House on Wednesday approved a one-week extension of government funding until Dec. 18, and the Senate is expected to follow suit.
“If we need more time, then we take more time. But we have to have a bill and we cannot go home without it,” Pelosi said, later adding, “We’ve been here after Christmas, you know.”
Congressional leaders in both parties say they want to attach a pandemic aid bill to a broader omnibus package that would fund the government into next year.
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