Kamala Harris is officially Joe Biden’s running mate in the 2020 presidential election. Now, it’s likely that many of her proposals and stances will get more attention, including her proposal for the federal government to provide monthly stimulus payments to individuals and families until the coronavirus pandemic is over.
The Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act stimulus plan proposal was introduced in May by Senators Harris, Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey. According to the act’s one-pager, the proposal would send $2,000 per month to individuals and $4,000 to married couples who file jointly, along with an additional $2,000 per child, up to three children. Any individual earning less than $120,000 would be eligible; the payments would be reduced for income more than $100,000 for individuals or $200,000 for married couples. This plan would send a payment to every U.S. citizen, even those without a Social Security number and those who haven’t filed a recent tax return. Debt collectors would not be allowed to seize this money.
This plan means that a married couple with a combined income of $200,000 or less with three or more children would receive $10,000 a month.
Harris’ stimulus plan is notable because it offers retroactive payments back to March, when the pandemic began. That means a family of five could receive a first payment of more than $50,000 if the plan passes. An individual could receive more than $12,000 in their first payment.
Here’s what you need to know:
How Retroactive Payments Would Work in This Stimulus Plan
The Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act is notable for more reasons than the notion of recurring monthly payments. In particular, it would provide these payments both retroactively and into the future: eligible Americans would receive their monthly amount “retroactively,” meaning that they would receive $2,000 a month (or whatever they are eligible for) for every month that has passed since the pandemic began in March.
In addition, Americans would receive checks until three months after the pandemic is “over.” None of the senators involved in this proposal have clarified what factors, economic or otherwise, would determine the “end” of the pandemic.
The current atmosphere in Congress is not friendly to the idea of monthly recurring payments for the American people. Republican and Democratic lawmakers haven’t yet been able to compromise on the details of the HEALS Act, and that proposal would provide much less financial support to the American people. However, Biden’s decision to make Harris his running mate means that this plan could very well pass in Congress after November, if Biden wins the presidency, and if the Senate goes blue.
What Has Biden Said About Retroactive Payments?
Biden has not commented on Harris’ outspoken desire to provide monthly payments to the American people. Jeff Stein of The Washington Post wrote, “Biden’s campaign has largely deferred to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on the specifics of coronavirus stimulus legislation.”
Biden’s economic plan does acknowledge the possibility of stimulus payments, saying a proposal “could include cash payments to working families,” but that’s as specific as the former vice president has gotten so far.