Published: Thu, March 04, 2021
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Biden tightens $1,400 stimulus check income limits amid pressure from moderate Dems

Biden tightens $1,400 stimulus check income limits amid pressure from moderate Dems

Press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed news reports that said the president backed giving the full $1,400 to Americans who make $75,000 and giving no money to those who make more than $80,000. The liberal Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimated that the pared-down Senate eligibility levels means 280 million adults and children would receive stimulus checks, compared to 297 million people under the House plan. Since the bill is not expected to attract any Republican votes, all Democrats will need to support the bill in order for it to pass, giving moderate Democrats leverage to make demands of the president and Senate leadership. Under the plan passed by the House, individuals making up to $100,000 a year and households making up to $200,000 would have received partial payments.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that the Senate will take up President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill "as early as tonight".

The Senate could start debate on the package as early as Wednesday night.

The changes are a nod to moderate Democrats in the Senate who have pushed for a more targeted approach to a third round of stimulus payments. The House will have to approve the Senate's version before shipping it to Biden, which Democrats want to do before the last round of emergency jobless benefits run dry March 14.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, said Tuesday that he thought there was growing momentum to expand on the House package and extend the $400-per-week boost into September.

Under Senate budget rules, there will be up to 20 hours of debate on the legislation after the Senate proceeds to the bill.

With Democrats and their allies controlling 50 seats, Vice President Kamala Harris might need to give them a tie-breaking vote, but so long as the Democrats remain united, they would not need Republican votes.

She said she would hope to redirect the savings from that change toward other needs, such as hospitals. But Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell expressed skepticism, saying that she thought "the package as it was originally crafted is good to go". Biden and Senate Democratic leaders are scrambling to keep their caucus united since they can't lose a single Democrat in the 50-50 Senate with Republicans united against the legislation.

The shift decreases the number of Americans who would have been eligible for payments under the version of the bill passed by the House on Saturday. In particular, Republicans have slammed the income limits and language in the House bill that would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Democrats can't go onto the field and sink Biden's first big legislative option - a bill that most Democrats agree is badly needed even if they have individual gripes about specific provisions.

He said he thinks the cost is too high and that it covers too many items not directly related to the coronavirus pandemic. Increasing additional unemployment benefits from $300 to $400 per week is also popular, with support from 67% of Americans.

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