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May 13, 2020

Reps. Pressley and Meeks Introduce Legislation Prohibiting Banks from Garnishing Economic Impact Payments

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05) introduced legislation which protects stimulus checks from garnishment and fees. The Protect our Checks Act of 2020 ensures that stimulus payments authorized by Congress in the CARES Act, in response to the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, cannot be garnished to settle debts or other payments. Text of the Protect our Checks Act of 2020 was included in the HEROES Act, unveiled by Speakers Pelosi and House Democratic leadership, as the next phase in congressional support for American families and frontline workers. 

“It is egregious that payments intended to serve as a lifeline would be garnished and diverted away from American families during this unprecedented public health and economic crisis,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “We must ensure that everyone in our communities is getting access to the relief funding they’re entitled to, and that’s exactly what the Protect Our Checks Act does. No one should be profiting off this pandemic, which is why this bill prevents garnishment of stimulus payments to pay for or offset other debts, ensuring the funds make it to the workers and families who so urgently need them. I’m proud to see the Protect Our Checks Act included in the Heroes Act, and I’ll continue fighting to ensure our federal response meets the scale and scope of this crisis.”

The introduction of this legislation is a follow-up to a letter that Representatives Meeks and Pressley sent on May 1, 2020, to the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) asking the agencies to immediately issue regulation or guidance to restrict financial institutions from seizing economic impact payments to collect on outstanding debts, such as overdraft fees.

“I am proud that the Protect our Checks Act of 2020 was incorporated into House Democrats’ next phase of support for American families who continue to suffer from the devastating health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Administration never should have allowed the garnishment of stimulus payments that congress authorized to provide financial support for American families at a time of greatest financial need and vulnerability.  American families cannot afford to have these stimulus payments garnished as they struggle to pay rent and utilities, keep food on the table, and pay healthcare bills,” said Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, who chairs the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions.

House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters was also an original cosponsor of the Protect our Checks Act of 2020.  

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