Despite hearing out Republican senators who want to reduce the amount Americans would get with a third stimulus check, President Joe Biden is standing firm on his proposal for $1,400 direct payments. However, the White House may be willing to narrow the guidelines so that fewer people will be eligible for the checks.
On Monday (Feb. 1), Biden met with 10 moderate GOP senators to discuss a $618 billion alternative to his larger, $1.9 trillion stimulus relief plan. The Republican lawmakers want to provide $1,000 checks to lower-income taxpayers making up to $40,000 per year ($80,000 for families), with payments phasing out completely for those earning more than $50,000 and $100,000, respectively.
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The Washington Post reports that Biden doesn't want to lower the amount from $1,400 to $1,000, but his administration may be open to lowering the income cap from the proposed $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples.
Those were the same income caps for the first two stimulus checks. If the same pro-rating formula were also applied, some money would go to those earning up to $103,000 and $206,000, respectively.
One alternative Democrats are discussing is phasing out $1,400 payments for individuals earning more than $50,000 and couples making more than $100,000, with smaller checks going to those just slightly above these caps. Lawmakers are also considering whether to send an additional $1,400 per child.
|Biden's original plan||Senate GOP proposal||Alternative White House plan|
|Income cap for individuals (full amount)||$75,000||$40,000||$50,000|
|Income cap for married couples (full amount)||$150,000||$80,000||$100,000|
|Income cap for prorated checks (individuals/couples)||Probably $103,000/$206,000||$50,000/$100,000||Not defined|
The back-and-forth between the White House and Senate Republicans is due in part to Biden's desire to pass bills with bipartisan support, even for a third round of stimulus relief. However, Republicans are resistant to the total cost of the initial White House proposal and many of the provisions included in it.
Democrats have continued to move ahead with the budget-reconciliation process, which would push the bill through the Senate without the standard 60 votes needed to bring it to the floor.
So why the sudden push for lower income caps if the Democrats can pass the entire Biden bill without GOP support? Because at least one Democratic senator, Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), wants more "targeted" stimulus checks, with less money going to higher-income people. With a 50-50 Senate, the reconciliation process needs his vote.
Manchin initially opposed Biden's $1,400 checks and said he wanted a smaller amount. But he now says he's on board with the Biden plan, which gives the Democrats the green light they need to proceed with reconciliation.
Manchin publicly changed his mind about the $1,400 amount the day after West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, expressed support for more stimulus relief, saying Congress should "go big."
Manchin may also have sensed the mood of the country. Americans of both parties overwhelmingly support the plan for $1,400 stimulus checks: 64% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats endorse the amount, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University.
However, far fewer Republicans (37%) and even more Democrats (97%) say they are on board with Biden's overall relief plan.