Live Updates: Narrower Income Limits for Stimulus Checks Win Biden’s Approval
The proposed change, part of an effort to secure enough support for the $1.9 trillion relief plan to pass the Senate, could mean that some people who got a check during the Trump administration would not get one under President Biden.
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President Biden has signed off on a Democratic plan to place stricter income caps on the next round of stimulus payments, a crucial concession to moderates whose votes he needs to push through his $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package.
The proposal would disqualify individuals earning more than $80,000 — and households whose incomes exceed $160,000 — from receiving stimulus checks of up to $1,400, lowering the individual income cap by $20,000 from the last round of direct payments and from the version of the aid plan passed over the weekend by the House.
The tentative agreement was detailed on Wednesday by a Democrat familiar with the details, who disclosed them on the condition of anonymity. It was under discussion as Democratic leaders pressed to find the 50 votes they will need to push through the stimulus measure in the face of unified Republican opposition.
Like the House bill, the proposal under discussion would send $1,400 checks to people earning up to $75,000 and households earning up to $150,000, with those earning more receiving smaller payments. But the Senate proposal would end the checks altogether for those making $80,000 or couples earning $160,000, while the House measure had a higher cap of $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for households.
Mr. Biden had previously signaled that the income levels were negotiable, and Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Wednesday that he had prioritized preserving the $75,000 limit for those receiving the full $1,400 stimulus payment.
“He is certainly familiar with the journey that it takes from a proposal to a bill being signed,” Ms. Psaki said. “He has also been open from the beginning for that being more targeted.”
The change in the upper limit being discussed in the Senate, if adopted, would mean that some people who got a check during the Trump administration would not get one under Mr. Biden. Nearly nine million households that received at least some amount in the last round of stimulus checks authorized in December would not receive any this time, according to calculations by Kyle Pomerleau, a tax modeling specialist at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. It would shave $15 billion to $20 billion off the cost of the bill, Mr. Pomerleau estimated.
The private haggling between over the details of the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan underscored the challenge of steering it through the evenly divided Senate, where Democratic leaders cannot afford a single defection. With unemployment benefits set to begin lapsing on March 14, Senate Democrats are working to pass the legislation by the weekend, with the first votes to advance it coming as early as Wednesday.
Liberal lawmakers are frustrated over the decision to drop a minimum-wage increase from the package, after a key Senate official ruled it out of bounds and moderates in the chamber said they would not support it. The centrists, who spoke privately with Mr. Biden earlier this week, have also been pushing to narrow other elements of the stimulus plan, including reducing a $400 weekly federal unemployment payment in the measure to $300 a week, the level currently being provided.
Senate Democrats appear to have rejected that effort, agreeing to the House-passed proposal to increase the benefit and extend it through the end of August.
Mr. Biden sought to rally Democratic senators around the package on Tuesday, joining their weekly lunchtime meeting by phone and urging them to stick together to reject attempts by Republicans to make changes when the Senate considers the bill that could kill its chances of passage."