WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats have reached a deal with President Joe Biden to limit the eligibility of his $ 1.9 trillion COVID relief bill to 1,400 checks, phasing out payments for Americans earning more than $ 80,000, according to two sources close to the deliberations not authorized to speak. the record.
The tweak is a goal of the moderates who didn’t want the checks going to the richest Americans.
Checks would begin to be phased out at $ 75,000 and entirely at $ 80,000 of income for individuals, up from about $ 100,000 in the version of the law passed by the House last week. Co-applicants would see their checks phased out starting at $ 150,000 and going entirely to $ 160,000.
The change could mean that many Americans who could have received at least one payment will now receive none.
The deal maintained a federal boost to unemployment benefits at $ 400 a week until August, the sources said, rather than September, as advocated by Liberals such as Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore .,.
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The compromise paves the way for the Senate to move the bill forward. They could take a procedural vote to start debate on the bill as early as Wednesday evening, meaning the bill could be passed by the entire Senate by the end of the week. Democrats aim to get the bill passed through the Senate and back through the House by mid-March, when the federal boost to unemployment benefits expires.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden was “happy with progress” in talks on his COVID-19 relief plan, but said he was firm on the thresholds at which Americans should receive the 1,400 checks. Pressed on whether Biden has agreed to more limited eligibility for relief checks, Psaki said, “He’s comfortable with the negotiating position.”
Some Senate Democrats have indicated they will support the compromise.
Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Member of the Democratic Senate leadership, told reporters it would be a “reasonable compromise” to remove the checks faster.
Another lawmaker, Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Indicated that she liked the original version, saying, “I think the package as it was originally designed is ready to go. “
The Liberal Democrats in the House have expressed their displeasure with the change, but have not indicated that they will block passage of the bill when it returns to the House next week because of the change.
Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., Said it was a “dumb and dumb” move meant to appease “the person or two who can hold things in place.”
Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Who chairs the Progressive Caucus, said, “I don’t like it being reduced. I think survival checks are the simplest, easiest and most straightforward proposition. popular …. “but said she wanted to take a closer look.
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Moderate Senate Democrats such as Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.V., had pushed Biden to tighten check eligibility and huddled with the president earlier in the week. Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont., A described their conversation as a discussion of better “targeting” spending in the bill.
Manchin had been pushing for checks to be scrapped after $ 50,000 in revenue, although the House drafted a threshold of $ 75,000.
He said he would support the changes, telling reporters on Wednesday he was “very happy with the discussions and dialogues and some changes that have been agreed” although he wanted to see the final version of the legislation.
Contributor: Courtney Subramanian