Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is set to introduce legislation on Friday that would establish a guaranteed income program and postal banking services to provide most U.S. adults, including undocumented taxpayers, with a $1,200 monthly check.
"For too long we have prioritized endless growth while millions are homeless, hungry, or without healthcare."
—Rep. Ilhan Omar
The SUPPORT Act is co-sponsored by Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) as well as Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), and Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), all members of the CPC.
HuffPost, which first reported the details of Omar's new bill, noted that the SUPPORT Act "would first create a $2.5 billion grant program to fund local pilots in guaranteed income. These would run in hundreds of communities across the country from 2023 to 2027 and provide findings for a national program."
According to the news outlet:
The national guaranteed income program would start in 2028, sending $1,200 per month to adults making up to $75,000 per year, or heads of household making up to $112,500 per year, as well as providing $600 monthly per child. The payments would phase out for higher incomes.
Importantly, undocumented people who file taxes with an ITIN number would be eligible. The legislation would also establish a banking system through the postal service for "unbanked, underbanked, and individuals experiencing housing instability" to receive payments.
A 2018 report from the Federal Reserve Board showed that nearly 40% of U.S. adults could not cover a $400 emergency expense.
Because the U.S. has more than enough resources to abolish poverty, Omar argued, allowing it to continue is a "choice" that legislators make.
The lawmaker's guaranteed income bill comes just days after a new Urban Institute report projected that federal economic relief programs enacted throughout the course of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic—including enhanced unemployment insurance, three rounds of one-time direct stimulus payments, the expanded child tax credit, boosts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and other benefits—will result in a roughly 45% decline in poverty in 2021.
In response to the new findings on the substantial anti-poverty impacts of pandemic-related aid, historian Rutger Bregman said that "this is what basic income advocates have been saying for years: simply giving people money works."
Although 20 million fewer people are expected to be living in poverty at the end of this year compared with 2018 thanks to the increased provision of financial assistance amid the coronavirus crisis, the Urban Institute warned that progress will be reversed if Congress fails to make permanent the initiatives that led to a reduction in economic hardship.
Omar's bill represents one effort to transform the federal government's emergency allocation of direct cash support into a long-term policy.
"For too long we have prioritized endless growth while millions are homeless, hungry, or without healthcare," the lawmaker said in a statement. "We as a nation have the ability to make sure everyone has their basic needs like food, housing, and healthcare met."
This content originally appeared on Common Dreams - Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community and was authored by Kenny Stancil.