On March 10, a bipartisan group of Democrats submitted legislation to increase stimulus funding for Americans. Similar to the payments authorised by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, these funds would almost certainly be made straight to American bank accounts. The funds would be distributed quarterly, with the goal of assisting residents in coping with rising gas prices.
If this bill is passed, Americans will receive additional stimulus funds.
Rep. Ro Khanna of California and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island submitted legislation giving more stimulus funding on March 10. Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bennet, and Sherrod Brown are cosponsors.
The legislation under consideration would impose a new levy on huge oil firms. The tax would equal 50% of the difference between the current price of a barrel of oil and the average price of a barrel of oil from 2015 to 2019. The funds raised would subsequently be used to fund stimulus payments.
Individuals with incomes under $75,000 and married joint filers with incomes under $150,000 would receive stimulus funds. Payments would total around $240 per year for single taxpayers and $360 per year for married joint filers based on current prices.
The measure is intended to address fast rising gas costs – the average price per gallon reached $4.31 on the day the bill was introduced, and price hikes are expected to continue, as a new restriction on Russian oil imports is implemented in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Regardless of the international uncertainties, the bill’s authors blame the price rises on oil firms hiking prices willingly in order to sustain their recent record profits. According to Rep. Khanna, the aim is that oil corporations will respond to the increased levy by lowering fuel prices.
“The more important point is that it will save everyone money,” she explained. “If you’re major oil and you consider this, you’re not going to want to pay this tax, and so will be willing to cut prices.”
Is the new stimulus measure likely to pass?
Despite key Democratic congressmen and senators’ backing, the chances of this new stimulus measure becoming law are slim. Republicans opposed the American Rescue Plan Act, which allowed the stimulus funds made last year. And because Republicans have always opposed tax increases, they are unlikely to accept this one.
Without Republican assistance, Democrats would require unanimity among their party members to enact legislation. And they would be forced to employ a procedure known as reconciliation if a Republican filibuster prevented the bill from proceeding. Some of the more conservative members of Congress on the left have been reluctant in recent months to grant additional economic relief through reconciliation, and hence are unlikely to support this new idea.
Nonetheless, with ongoing economic turmoil and rising prices, lawmakers may take measures to assist – and this bill offers one such alternative.