(NEXSTAR) — Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) introduced a plan Thursday that would create a monthly, per-child benefit for American parents.
Romney’s Family Security Act would give families $350 for each child under 6, or $4,200 a year, and $250 for children between the ages of 6 and 17, or $3,000 per year.
According to the Romney camp, the proposal would “reform and consolidate outdated federal programs to pay for the new proposal” and help to cut “child poverty by up to one-third in America.”
“American families are facing greater financial strain, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, and marriage and birth rates are at an all-time low,” Romney said in a press release. “On top of that, we have not comprehensively reformed our family support system in nearly three decades, and our changing economy has left millions of families behind. Now is the time to renew our commitment to families to help them meet the challenges they face as they take on most important work any of us will ever do—raising our society’s children.”
On Capitol Hill, Democrats were on track Thursday to approve a budget resolution that will pave the way for eventually passing the aid package on a party-line vote by Democrats, with or without bipartisan support from Republicans.
Senior Democrats are currently working on legislation as part of their $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal that would give families $3,600 a year for each child up to age six and $3,000 for every school-aged child, though Romney is proposing a more aggressive plan.
Senators were poised for an all-night session to consider amendments that could define the contours of the eventual bill. One from Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, would prevent “upper-income” taxpayers from qualifying for Biden’s proposed $1,400 direct payments and it passed 99-1. No income level was specified.
Vice President Kamala Harris was in attendance, able to cast a tie-breaking vote, if needed, in the chamber that is evenly divided 50-50. A White House aide said the goal is to provide an open and bipartisan debate.
The goal is approval by March deadlines for expiring jobless benefits and other aid.
The Biden package comes after $4 trillion in rescue spending that cushioned the financial blow from the pandemic but did little to stop the disease. It includes politically divisive provisions such as a $15 hourly minimum wage and $350 billion in aid for state and local governments. Ten Republican senators countered with a $618 billion package, one-third of what Biden is offering.
Biden entered the presidency with Americans generally hopeful about his ability to fight the pandemic and guide the economy. About three-quarters said they have at least some confidence in his ability to handle the coronavirus, while roughly two-thirds had at least some confidence in his economic leadership, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Most Americans still see the need for government stimulus. A survey released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University found 68% of U.S. adults support Biden’s stimulus package and 24% oppose it. But Republicans are divided on the measure, with 47% opposed and 37% favoring it. Nearly all Democrats backed the plan.
But even Republicans who are supportive of some kind of aid are telling their voters Biden’s plan is too expensive — and it’s possible people could be turned off if they think stimulus dollars are being wasted.
The group of GOP senators behind the counterproposal told Biden in a letter Thursday that they had significant questions about the “size and scope” of his plan given how much Congress already has allocated and the more than $60 billion in emergency assistance they said states and districts have yet to spend on public schools.
Republicans are betting Biden will pay a price politically if he doesn’t take a bipartisan tack. By contrast, Democrats hope Republicans will pay a price if voters don’t see them engaging with the fullness of the crisis.
The United States has lost roughly 10 million jobs because of the pandemic, and the Congressional Budget Office estimates that without additional aid, the jobs won’t return in full until 2024. The Census Bureau estimates 1 in 8 households with children lacks sufficient food.
But the picture is also complicated. The Penn Wharton Budget Model found in a report released Wednesday that 73% of the $1,400 stimulus checks would go into savings, meaning there would be limited growth in consumer spending, which helps propel the economy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.