This year could be Democrats’ last chance for a while to pass major legislation reducing hardship for many families and workers, and they must make tough choices about which policies to leave out.
A bubble proposal is an update to the federal government’s primary funding program for the poorest of the poor, a program that has long been overlooked by lawmakers in Washington.
The Supplemental Security Income program, known as SSI, provides cash assistance to nearly 8 million people who are blind or disabled and who haven’t made much money working. But its benefits are meager, capped at $ 794 per month, and beneficiaries can be deported if they accumulate more than $ 2,000 in a bank account – a rule that has not been updated since 1989.
Brown is the main sponsor of a bill to increase benefits, lift the asset limit and make other changes to bring more ISS beneficiaries above the poverty line. The senator said he suspected it would “probably not” appear in the budget reconciliation bill Democrats plan to pass Congress later this year, but that he would try to do so.
“SSI has been forgotten by Washington for years,” Brown told HuffPost. “I’m pushing my colleagues to make sure it doesn’t happen again this time. “
Democrats have said they will certainly include some policies in legislation, such as maintaining the monthly child tax credit benefits that began last week. They also spoke of a big game on expanding access to paid family leave, affordable child care and universal kindergarten, but the real scope of these proposals remains unclear, and at this point , the bill only exists in broad outline.
“We haven’t really started negotiating the details yet,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
White House omitted SSI changes to its April summary package Democrats intend to pass after Congress approves a bipartisan infrastructure bill. And a snapshot of pending legislation that a Democratic aide on Capitol Hill circulated earlier this month has also left the ISS out.
“It’s actually something we’re looking at,” Senate Budget Committee chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Told HuffPost this week.
Brown’s proposal would cost more than 500 billion dollars over a decade, which is a significant amount of money, even in the context of a $ 3.5 trillion budget resolution. As Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Said: “We have a lot of top priorities.”
But the budget could be Democrats’ last chance to pass big policy changes for years to come, as they have tiny majorities in the House and Senate and could lose control of either house in the process. 2022. The reconciliation process, which allows Democrats to bypass Republicans and push legislation through the Senate with just 50 votes, is traditionally only available once per fiscal year.
It’s probably fair to say that Washington forgot about SSI. The program’s $ 2,000 asset limit is so low that when last year’s stimulus payments landed in bank accounts, some beneficiaries saw their monthly benefits. reduced because they had become too rich. The penalties were the result of administrative errors, as the payments weren’t supposed to count toward federal program eligibility, but only for one year, meaning anyone who saved their payments from 2020 stimulus could be over the limit now. The average benefit is only $ 585, which equates to an annual income below the federal poverty line for an individual.
“Right now, this is our best opportunity to right the wrongs of decades of neglect,” Brown said.
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