Americans who earn less than $99,000 a year can expect to receive stimulus checks from the federal government beginning Monday, Rep. Richard Neal said Thursday on Boston Public Radio.
As Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Neal had significant influence over the language that was put into the stimulus bill. Neal said 60 million checks are expected to go out Monday.
The priority for the federal government, he said, is to provide the checks to lower and middle income Americans, though Americans who have registered for direct deposit with the Internal Revenue Service are likely to see their checks earlier than those who have not.
“Our plan here from inception was to get money into the hands of people in the middle and lower end of the economic spectrum because not only would it be for day-to-day sustenance, but they would likely spend it much more quickly,” Neal said.
As part of the recently passed CARES Act, Americans earning less than $75,000 will be eligible for $1,200 while Americans earning between $75,000 and $99,000 are also eligible, but will receive $5 less for every $100 of income above $75,000. Parents are also eligible for an additional $500 for every child under seventeen who they claim as a dependent.
Noting difficulties in dispersing billions in loans to small businesses as part of the law’s Paycheck Protection Program, Neal said he believes it is because the program began less than a week ago, and guidelines for lenders were provided the evening before the program began.
Neal said that currently Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has told him $100 billion have been released across 4,000 lenders.
“That logjam ... I think largely came because Treasury just issued guidelines last Thursday evening, and the first opportunity for those loans guaranteed by the federal government — 100 percent guaranteed from the federal government — that started last Friday morning,” Neal said.
As the congressman from Massachusetts’ first congressional district, Neal represents Holyoke where an outbreak of COVID-19 in a veterans home recently left more than two dozen veterans dead.
He said that his uncle is a resident of the home, and had contracted the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — though it is unclear if he has developed the disease. The congressman said the outbreak particularly highlighted the issue of elderly loneliness, and expressed sympathy for senior citizens who are being forced to isolate from their families during the pandemic.
“He is 90 years old and tough as nails. And I will tell you it was kind of more than an uncle relationship with me because I lived with them,” Neal said. “One of the hardest parts is that you can’t see them. So, when you read the obituaries now in the Springfield Republican it’s very painful, because you know they literally died alone, and there wasn’t anybody there to say goodbye to because physically you couldn’t do it.”
Neal also criticized the fashion in which President Donald Trump has been holding his daily coronavirus task force press briefings. During the pandemic, Neal emphasized the importance of leaning on institutional knowledge and expertise, and cautioned against allowing partisanship and inaccuracies into the discourse regarding the virus.
“I watch the president do these briefings and I always want to say, ‘Look, can we just hear from Fauci. That would be great. That’s all we need to hear from right now is Fauci,’” Neal said. “The problem with [modern politics] is it’s one thing to be entertained, it’s another thing to be informed, and I think that the obligation we all have at this perilous moment is to inform the American people based on fact based data.”