Meijer's Alternative COVID Relief Bill Slashes Total Cost, Offers More in Direct Cash Payments

Posted: Feb 28, 2021 9:45 AM

Even though the House narrowly passed the Democrats' $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, freshman Congressman Peter Meijer (R-MI) has an alternative plan that would put more cash directly in Americans' hands while also slashing the total cost of the bill. 

According to Meijer, passing the House's version of President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan doesn't mean much considering Senate parliamentarian ruled the bill, which includes a $15 minimum wage increase, falls outside of the budget reconciliation process. Because of that, he sees it as an opportunity to cut out wasteful pork spending and nearly double the direct cash payment amount Americans receive.

"Instead of focusing on a bipartisan bill, as has been done four times prior with COVID relief, or hewing to the spirit of unity that President Biden aspired to in his inaugural address, Speaker Pelosi has instead presented us with this institutional abomination," the freshman congressman said in a statement. "We could have prioritized vaccine delivery, COVID testing, PPE distribution, getting kids back to school, and supporting small businesses- but no. Instead, Speaker Pelosi and Democratic leadership worked behind closed doors to craft this grab bag of unrelated gifts to entrenched interests."

"This is not what the American people need. Instead, we need direct dollars over government excess ($DOGE): bigger checks to those who need it most, increased vaccine purchasing and distribution, COVID-19 testing and PPE, K-12 funding for our schools to reopen safely for in person learning, and support for our small businesses so they can weather this awful pandemic," he said. "This shouldn't be controversial because these areas of funding we can all agree upon."

Meijer said he took the COVID relief plan Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) crafted and tweaked it so it upped the direct cash payment amount. 

Under his proposal, unemployment benefits would decrease to $200 a week through June 30 and then drop again to $100 a week through Labor Day. Democrats' current proposal includes $400 in unemployment insurance on top of state-issued benefits. 

Direct cash payments would jump up to $2,400 per person but the income thresholds are lower than what Democrats proposed. A single filer would qualify for $2,400 but would phase at $40,000, with an income cap of $50,000. Joint filers would qualify for $4,800 but would begin phasing out at $80,000, with an income cap of $100,000. Dependent adults and children would be given $1,200. 

The $1.9 COVID relief bill is currently making its way to the Senate where is faces an uphill battle. Not only is there the Senate parliamentarian issue but some Democrats, including moderates Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Joe Manchin (WV) have said they would not vote for a bill that includes upping the federal minimum wage.