Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act Introduced in US Congress

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12)

The Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act of 2021 would setup three-year program to provide a monthly income to test group and study impacts

Today, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), announced the reintroduction of the Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act, legislation that would establish a nationwide pilot program to test the outcomes of a federally funded income support program that keeps more American families from experiencing permanent financial fallout and lasting poverty from a single unexpected crisis.

Over the past year, the Coronavirus pandemic has devastated the economy for everyday families, and while millionaires and billionaires often thrived, many families are still at risk of eviction, and unemployed, and out of options.

On one hand, this crisis has exposed the fragility of our economy in its interactions with working people. On the other, it’s demonstrated the real and meaningful ability for federal programs to keep Americans out of poverty

“Many policymakers have seen this pandemic as a once-in-a-lifetime crisis, and while that may be true for businesses or markets, for millions of Americans, this is just one more emergency threatening to wipe out what little savings they have, to finally push them to homelessness, to reinforce the fact that in the wealthiest nation in the world, too many families are just a single mishap away from financial devastation,” said Watson Coleman. “What we learned when Congress made the decision to send economic impact payments through the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan was that our government can prevent people from falling into poverty, it can build a floor beneath which we say no one in this country should fall. This bill is all about looking at ways to make that floor permanent, giving more families a sense of economic security.”

“Income security is the foundation of both immediate and long-term health and well-being,” said Rep. Danny Davis.  

“For example, research shows that that for families with children under the age of 5, receiving an extra $3,000 per year boosts children’s adult earnings by 17 percent. The pandemic demonstrated with painful clarity the vulnerability of Americans and families and that Congress must take action to help stabilize families. The Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act of 2021 is an important step to examine whether a set monthly income will result in the same substantial benefits to Americans as it has around the world.”

“The best way to end poverty in America is to put money in the pockets of people in need,” said Rep. Ritchie Torres. “People in districts like mine tend to spend that money locally, which creates income for not only businesses but also their employees. It’s not only good values, it’s good economics. This pilot program is a crucial step in ensuring Americans can attain financial stability as we recover from this pandemic and address the increasing costs of living and housing across the country.”

“I’ve long believed that direct cash assistance is the quickest, cheapest, and best way to get help to people who need it most,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer

“The success of pandemic relief programs showed the life-changing impact of cash relief as it allowed families to pay bills, make rent, and put food on the table. It’s clear that there is a long-term need for such programs, and I’m glad to work with Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman to create a national pilot program to study guaranteed monthly income.”

“The pandemic and financial crisis of the past year have had a devastating economic effect on communities that were already struggling,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman. “Families in NY-16 and across the country need reliable sources of income that will not only make them whole, but will keep them whole. I’m proud to join Rep. Watson Coleman on the Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act, because it is an essential step toward ending the cycle of poverty among our most vulnerable populations and expanding opportunities for all.”

The Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act of 2021 would establish a three-year nationwide pilot program that gives a monthly support payment to individual taxpayers implemented by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

• The pilot program created by the bill would distribute monthly cash payments to included participants in amounts equal to fair market rent for a 2-bedroom home in their zip code, or a similar amount to be determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, with payments arriving on or near the 15th day of each month.

• Payments to participants made through the pilot program would not be considered when determining eligibility for federal or federally assisted state or local assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid.

• The bill requires HHS to work with a non-profit academic or research institution with experience in mixed-method experimental design to support development of the pilot program and ensure measurable results.

• The pilot program would include 12,000 individuals, including a control group of 6,000, to allow of comparison of economic security for the families involved at the end of the three-year period.

• The bill requires HHS, the Internal Revenue Service, and the designated research institution to provide an interim report on the pilot program’s outcomes within 24 months of implementation, and a final report within 12 months of the program’s conclusion.

“The National Coalition for the Homeless fundamentally believes in the evidence-based results of Guaranteed Income programs,” said Donald H. Whitehead, Jr., Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “We fully support HR 4342 proposed by Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman.  We cannot end homelessness and Bring America Home Now without a dramatic reduction of poverty.  We hope that members of Congress will enthusiastically support this legislation.

“An income guarantee is an evidence-based way to nurture our economy back to health,” said Economic Security Project Co-chair Natalie Foster. “And we’ve seen the same story in city after city—trusting people to know how to address their most urgent needs works.”

“The $500 a month pilot program in Stockton improved mental health outcomes and the full-time employment rate. The country just saw how stimulus checks gave workers a moment to not have to choose between putting food on the table and risking their health. We applaud Rep. Watson Coleman’s proposed pilot program and are eager to see it progress into its reliable and fully data-driven implementation.”

“We applaud Congresswoman Watson Coleman for proposing solutions that would more directly tackle the issue of poverty in our country,” said Solana Rice, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Liberation in a Generation. “As an organization that aims to create an economy where all people of color can thrive, the Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act represents a step in the right direction towards creating systems that can ensure that the most marginalized members of our society not only can meet their basic needs during a moment of crisis but also can also live their lives without fear of being pushed into poverty.”

The Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act’s cosponsors include Reps. Ritchie Torres (NY-15), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Danny Davis (IL-7), and Earl Blumenauer (OR-3).

Organizations endorsing the Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act: Economic Security Project, National Coalition for the Homeless, and Liberation in a Generation.


Text of the bill can be found here.

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