The second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate and several committee chairs have now signed a letter to President Joe Biden asking him include recurring stimulus payments to Americans in his Build Back Better package to be unveiled soon.
The letter, which was originally circulated in early March, also asks Biden to include automatic unemployment benefit extensions that would be tied to the state of the economy.
It was signed by Sen. Richard Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who serves as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s top lieutenant. Durbin also chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Three committee chairmen who had signed on earlier – Ron Wyden of Finance, Sherrod Brown of Banking and Bernie Sanders of Banking – were joined by Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, Indian Affairs Chairman Brian Schatz, Armed Services Chairman Sen. Jack Reed, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters.
In total, 21 of the 50 Democrats in the Senate have now signed on to the letter.
Biden is set to unveil some details of his plan, which has been reported as being a two-part plan with a focus on infrastructure in the first portion, in a speech in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
Capitol Hill Democrats have signaled they are ready to again use a process called budget reconciliation to push through a package without any Republican votes if necesssary.
Republicans have said they are supportive of more infrastructure funding but worry Democrats will use the package as a “Trojan horse,” in Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s words, for tax hikes and unneeded spending on climate change programs.
Greg Nasif, chief spokesman for Humanity Forward, a group that has pressed for more generous cash assistance during the pandemic, said, “Too often, when crisis strikes, Congress either responds quickly, or responds adequately. They rarely seem to do both. Automatic stabilizers will provide four months of substantial relief to all Americans in need, and give Congress time to adequately address a serious crisis. We thank these 21 Senators for helping to move America forward.”