PROVIDENCE, RI – Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) called on Congress to pass a third round of direct pandemic relief payments to struggling Americans and provide additional emergency COVID-19 assistance to families, businesses, and communities.

Senator Reed issued the following statement:

“We’re in the midst of an emergency and we need to get more help to the American people.  These $2,000 checks should have gone out months ago and I am committed to delivering them.  They will have a significant positive, immediate impact for individuals, local businesses, and our economy.

“We had strong bipartisan support for $2,000 pandemic payments, but Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow a vote in the Senate on the House-passed CASH Act.  The new fifty-fifty split in the U.S. Senate means both sides will now get a say and Democrats are determined to complete our unfinished business and ensure the $2,000 direct payments are enacted.  This is just a down payment on COVID-19 relief.  We also need to deliver more targeted assistance to families, Main Street, and communities and enact policies to improve public health, keep people in their homes, and save small businesses that have been denied the help they need to survive this pandemic.

“The American people clearly and resoundingly voted for change and Congress needs to listen, act, and deliver.  The time for obstruction is over and the time for bold, decisive action is now.  That means increased direct payments.  It means improving the delivery of vaccines.  It means helping prevent layoffs and evictions and other actions that will help lead our country safely through this pandemic and come out stronger on the other side.

“While $600 checks have already gone out, that is not nearly enough and more help should be on the way soon.  Again, these are survival payments amidst a pandemic and we can’t afford partisan delay.  If everyone who supported the CASH Act during the Trump Administration supports it under the Biden Administration, then Americans should begin receiving the additional funds in February.”

The $900 billion COVID-19-Relief package signed into law in December included $600 direct payments to most Americans, which was just half the size of the $1,200 payments to individuals who met that same income threshold under the CARES Act.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is currently in the process of disbursing the $600 payments to eligible individuals and families.  According to the IRS, these payments began going out to Rhode Islanders at the end of December and are still being processed via direct payment or checks in the mail.