Senate Republicans introduced their proposal for the next coronavirus package on Monday, called the HEALS Act. As was expected, it included stimulus checks and expanded the scope to cover more people. However, it left out one group of people that many expected to be included. The HEALS Act did not propose coronavirus stimulus checks for Americans married to noncitizens, something that was proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
The CARES Act made Americans married to non-citizens and who file their tax returns jointly ineligible for stimulus checks. To address this loophole, Rubio and Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) came up with a provision to provide retroactive $1,200 stimulus checks to Americans married to noncitizens who do not have Social Security Numbers.
Rubio’s provision asked for future stimulus payments for the group as well. However, the provision did not make it into the final version of the GOP proposal. The HEALS Act requires a Social Security Number to qualify for the payment.
Rubio’s provision could help millions of Americans who have one or more noncitizens in their family. According to an estimate from the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning public policy group, over 8 million Americans have an illegal family member.
In addition to Rubio, the provision received the backing of the Koch brothers’ Libre Initiative and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Libre Initiative Executive Director Daniel Garza told The Hill that Congress must give coronavirus stimulus checks to Americans married to noncitizens.
“I’m just flabbergasted that this happened,” Garza said, referring to the first stimulus package. “They need to redress it, fix it, never repeat it again. It’s a question of flat-out fairness.”
Will the final package include Rubio’s provision?
There is still a chance that Rubio’s provision will make it into to the final package. The final coronavirus stimulus package is still at least a week away as negotiations on the bill have yet to start.
A point to note is that Democrats have been in favor of sending the first and second stimulus checks to noncitizens. Republicans, for now, have rejected the idea of sending coronavirus stimulus checks to noncitizens. Once the negotiations start, it is possible that Republicans at least agree to send stimulus checks to Americans married to noncitizens.
“This might be an area where Democrats might push back,” said Garrett Watson, senior policy analyst at the Tax Foundation, according to CNBC. “If there was going to be a change, that would the first place to start.”
A spokesperson told Newsweek that Rubio "remains committed to seeing his bill, which would provide this benefit to U.S. Citizens, make it to the President's desk."
Prior to learning of his bill's exclusion, Rubio told Newsweek, “I think it certainly has merit, and I think it has support."
According to the senator, there is little to no opposition from leadership on his idea.