The joint resolution the House of Representatives introduced to support a second round of local stimulus payments in the form of cash or direct deposits remains pending in the Senate and House lawmakers are urging senators to act on it soon.
During a House session last Wednesday, Rep. Tina Sablan (D-Saipan) stated that House Joint Resolution 22-12 that endorses the issuance of a second local stimulus payment of $500 per resident and $500 per dependent remains pending.
“The [joint resolution] proposes a new local stimulus in the form of not debit cards but cash payments to qualified taxpayers in the CNMI as well as their dependents, and I’d like to ask our Senate colleagues to consider that,” she said.
Sablan noted that the administration has acknowledged for months the need for a second local stimulus but is heavily leaning in the direction of debit cards while the resolution proposes a stimulus in the form of cash instead.
“The administration has so far at least acknowledged that there’s a need for a local stimulus. It sounds like they’re still leaning in the direction of debit cards, which we know came with all kinds of inconveniences and hardships,” Sablan.
The problem with debit cards, Sablan said, is that, in addition to the many restrictions, after the card expired last March, the funds that remained were no longer available. This has become an issue because many opted to save that money for rainy days but lost it and were not even aware of it.
“We’re learning from constituents that debit cards have expired and they weren’t aware that there was an expiration date. The point is that all of these inconveniences would not be an issue if we would just give taxpayers who need this assistance. I wanted to ask our colleagues for your assistance in reaching out to the Senate to show their support for this resolution for local stimulus for our people,” she said.
Sablan, who chairs the Health and Welfare Committee, introduced the bipartisan House joint resolution back in January.
The resolution follows the same eligibility guidelines as the previous federal stimulus packages for households that meet adjusted gross income guidelines of up to $75,000 per individual or $150,000 for married couples.
The joint resolution strongly urges the new local economic impact payment to be made directly to qualified households instead of limiting spending options to local vendors that accept Visa debit cards, as with the previous local stimulus distribution.