As the economic fallout from the coronavirus escalates with statewide closures of non-essential businesses, federal lawmakers are considering sending thousands of dollars in direct cash payments to American households.
U.S. Senator Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, was joined by 17 fellow senators in writing a letter to Senate leadership this week, urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to forward their legislation that would support Americans in the time of financial and economic uncertainty.
“Over the course of just one week, most of America went from business-as-usual to a virtual shutdown,” members of Congress wrote in the letter. “Workers have seen their hours cut or eliminated entirely, and millions of American families are assessing how they will weather a potentially long-lasting economic paralysis. We must provide direct cash support to the American workers and families who need it most – to help them purchase essentials; pay the rent, mortgage, and bills; and otherwise weather the coming weeks and months.”
Senators propose sending checks in multiple installments with extensions if the public health emergency extends beyond July or the unemployment increases. Eligibility would extend to workers who filed taxes for the 2019 tax year and non-filers who filed form 1040 separately.
The first installment would be $2,000 for every adult, child and non-child dependent. The second installment of $1,500 would be made if federal officials call for public health emergency and economic turmoil designation in July or if the June unemployment rate is 1% higher than the three-month average from December through February.
If the June unemployment rate is only 0.5% above the three-month average, a half payment of $750 would be made for each qualifying person, according to the letter.
Beyond July, lawmakers said quarterly payments of $1,000 would be made for qualifying individuals if federal officials make an economic turmoil designation and March unemployment is up 1% from the December-February average, lawmakers said.
Half payments of $500 would be made if the unemployment rate is 0.5% above the December-February average, and payments would continue every quarter until unemployment falls to within half a percentage point of the three-month average, according to lawmakers.
Higher-income taxpayers would not be included in the payouts, with a phase-out rate of 5% of the aggregate credit amount starting at higher incomes, according to Casey’s office.