By: Rebecca Johnson and Jon Moss
More than 20 of the country’s statewide College Democrats groups called Thursday for Congress to extend economic rescue checks to all American adult dependents in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The coalition is encouraging Congress to support and fast-track H.R. 6420, the All Dependent Children Count Act, sponsored by Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn. The bill would expand eligibility for relief checks to children younger than 19, students 24 and younger and no age limit for adults who are disabled. It currently has nearly 150 cosponsors, both Democratic and Republican, in the House.
Daisy Confoy, the president of Pennsylvania College Democrats, said in a press release that college students claimed as dependents have significant expenses that are being overlooked by Congress.
“The average college student carries $29,000 in debt,” Confoy said. “By ignoring the dire financial situation of college students and dependents, Congress is leaving us behind.”
Confoy said the main component of the College Democrats’ action is a letter campaign hosted through the Action Network. The site allows students to write letters directly to their representatives.
“We’re hoping for thousands and as many as it takes for this to get national attention,” Confoy said.
The $2.2 trillion economic rescue package signed into law by President Donald Trump in late March included $1,200 checks to most American adults, with $500 per dependent child younger than 17 years old. The CARES Act left out an overwhelming majority of older high school students and those currently attending college, who are likely listed as dependents on their parents’ tax returns.
Though college students did not receive $1,200 checks, some are obtaining federally-funded emergency financial aid grants of around $1,000, depending on school-specific eligibility. To further aid students, the CARES Act also suspended student loan payments until Sept. 30 without penalty.
Spokespeople for the leaders of the Senate Committee on Finance and House Committee on Ways and Means did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Confoy said she contacted each state’s College Democrats chapter, and 22 joined the coalition immediately. She said she is open to changing the petition to gain more support, though.
“We’ll do direct outreach to the states that haven’t signed up yet and ask them if there’s anything that needs to be added or altered,” Confoy said. “There’s no way we could cover everything in our first go around.”
Confoy said she also hopes to make this a bipartisan effort.
“Everyone is struggling right now,” Confoy said. “There are issues that affect us based on income and employment status that go beyond party lines.”