Last week, President Biden began his term in office with an inauguration speech emphasizing the need for unity in our politics. It was an appropriate note for the address.
Biden now has a golden opportunity to deliver on that promise: calling on the House and Senate to pass an increase in economic impact payments to Americans struggling due to the pandemic from $600 to $2,000.
Doing so would provide immediate help to homeowners, parents, and other Americans struggling to make rent or pay their bills as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage our economy. These Americans do not have the luxury of time as lawmakers in Washington cynically weigh down common-sense legislation with a wish list of left-wing priorities.
Democrats in the House and Senate are already divided on the best path forward because they recognize a huge, unwieldy bill is unlikely to pass quickly. Any bill packed with controversial left-wing provisions will lack the bipartisan support President Biden hopes to achieve. Nonetheless, some Democrats have discussed the potential of using a procedural move called “reconciliation” to pass a bill with zero Republican support.
Even then, this stunt would delay relief for months, leaving millions of struggling Americans without additional assistance as their politicians scheme and divide. As a result, some House Democrats have floated the idea of a slimmed-down version that would focus on increasing direct payments and ensuring the Biden administration has the funds necessary to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines.
That is an approach I support, and one I am confident many of my Republican colleagues would as well.
President Biden has the power to urge Democrats to move ahead with this more straightforward approach. It’s the right thing to do. Millions of working families in our nation are in urgent need of additional relief, which is why I supported the effort in December. Now, we have another shot.
I know all too well the consequences of politicians exploiting popular, critical legislation as leverage to secure passage for policies that cannot pass on their own. We saw it earlier in the pandemic, when Senate Democrats repeatedly blocked additional funding for small businesses via the Paycheck Protection Program for months on end. We cannot allow direct payments to the American people in this extraordinary time to become bogged down in Washington’s political games.
I share many of my colleagues’ concerns about the effects that such massive additional spending may have down the line. But we also cannot ignore the fact that millions of working families across the nation are still in desperate need of a lifeline. If we fail to throw one now, we risk closing the door on opportunity -- economic and beyond -- for many more generations of Americans.
I am not prepared to allow that American Dream to wither away. I am sure that President Biden would say the same, which is why he should seize this moment of unity by pushing congressional Democrats to move forward immediately with a targeted relief bill. At a time when Americans desperately need it, we must recognize the positive message it would send to our nation if our parties came together to expand our relief payments to $2,000 with a straightforward, bipartisan bill. Let’s get it done, Mr. President.