coronavirus universal basic income Mitt Romney
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

A handful of lawmakers including Utah Sen. Mitt Romney have expressed the urgency of implementing a universal basic income in recent days.

Every single American adult would immediately receive $1,000 to ease the financial turmoil being caused by the coronavirus, under a new proposal from Sen. Mitt Romney.

The Utah Republican announced Monday he would introduce such a plan, saying it would help ensure families and workers can meet their short-term financial burdens. He also expressed support for the House’s coronavirus response package, which was passed with a bipartisan majority on Friday.

Romney isn’t the first person to embrace such an idea. Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who campaigned on the idea of a universal basic income (UBI), also called for the implementation of an emergency UBI in recent days. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii have also expressed the urgency of passing a UBI.

In the wake of Romney’s proposal, Ocasio-Cortez again expressed support for an emergency UBI, but added that “UBI shouldn’t be used as an excuse for not pausing mortgage & student loan payments, halting interest, etc.”

Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) meanwhile proposed legislation last week to establish an emergency Earned Income Tax Credit that would provide a check between $1,000 and $6,000 to every American who earned less than $65,000 last year. 

Direct financial relief for Americans isn’t the only thing Romney is advocating for. He also wants the Small Business Administration to provide bridge grants to qualified small businesses—those that show a revenue loss of greater than 50% from the same month in the previous year—so they can meet short-term obligations, such as rent and payroll. 

His package of proposals also include efforts to provide students with relief by including unexpected COVID-19 related costs as a factor for providing Pell Grants. Romney also wants to defer the repayment of student loans for recent graduates affected by the outbreak. 

Finally, Romney’s package includes a measure to require all private health insurance companies to temporarily cover telehealth services in all coronavirus-related cases, with the federal government reimbursing the full cost of services. 

Romney said he intends to push for these proposals in the Senate and underscored the need for direct aid to Americans.  

“The House coronavirus response package contains critical measures to help families in Utah and across the nation in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, and the Senate should act swiftly on this legislation,” Romney said in a statement. “We also urgently need to build on this legislation with additional action to help families and small businesses meet their short-term financial obligations, ease the financial burden on students entering the workforce, and protect health workers on the front lines and their patients by improving telehealth services.” 

It’s unclear whether Romney’s proposal would gain any traction in the Republican-led Senate, but it’s not just politicians who believe in the need for emergency aid to Americans during the coronavirus outbreak. Major economists have also said such a measure is necessary to ease the economic burden on American families.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s comments from Twitter.