The one-time presidential candidate and tech entrepreneur has lobbied dozens of lawmakers in support of UBI in this time of crisis.
The Yang Gang is making its first foray onto the Hill.
As Congress remains at an impasse over Covid-19 relief, onetime presidential hopeful Andrew Yang and his nonprofit Humanity Forward are lobbying more than 60 lawmakers in the House and Senate to give Americans stimulus checks. Already, he’s paired with two lawmakers who introduced a stand-alone bill in the House based on Yang’s drive for stimulus.
His effort might not get far in Congress, but it builds upon the tech entrepreneur’s push to get money directly into individuals’ pockets. During the 2020 election,
Yang campaigned on a promise to provide $1,000 a month to Americas as a form of universal basic income. It also shows that Yang, who is eyeing a run for New York City mayor, wants to influence policy on a national level.
“We reached out to various members of Congress that we thought would be receptive and aligned with the fact that cash relief would be the most impactful way to help the folks that they saw were struggling in their communities,” Yang said in an interview. “I see it as like the most important work I do, because I know that if you get a number of legislators on board with doing the right thing for people, then we can alleviate the suffering of tens of millions of Americans.”
Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware and Republican Rep. David McKinley of West Virginia last week introduced a measure in the House stemming from Yang’s lobbying. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the No. 5 House Democrat, has signed on as a co-sponsor.
The bill would provide one-time direct payments similar to those in the previously approved CARES Act. Under Blunt Rochester and McKinley’s bill, individuals would receive $1,000 while couples would get $2,000, and each dependent would get $1,000. The cash payment would be less for individuals making at least $75,000 or for joint filers who make $150,000 or more. Twelve Democrats and 12 Republicans have joined Blunt Rochester and McKinley as co-sponsors.
“There is a sense of urgency right now,” Blunt Rochester said. “As these deadlines come to fruition, we’ve seen so many people who are at risk from eviction. We’ve seen so many of our folks on food lines, they need the help.”
McKinley said that lawmakers want to pass relief for hospitals and businesses, and he questions why there aren’t direct funds for individuals.
“This is a chance for us to do something quick. And while we debate the others and we work out all the details, let’s help those individuals get through this because they’re still struggling,” he said.