Biden limits eligibility for stimulus payments under pressure from moderate Senate Democrats

Henrietta Strickland
March 4, 2021

The Senate is using the budget reconciliation process to pass the bill, which limits time for debate and allows legislation to pass with a simple majority. Psaki said Biden is "comfortable" with where negotiations stand. "He's always said he's open to good ideas".

Conservative Dems have fought so the Biden admin sends fewer & less generous relief checks than the Trump admin did. Traditionally, the minority party has used a "vote-a-rama" to put political pressure on the majority by attempting to pass controversial amendments. She told reporters her state's tourism industry has been walloped by the pandemic and said she's talked to administration officials about "how this helps a state like Alaska". And Jess, Democrats really trying to race to get this one done by March 14, when we'll see some of those federal unemployment benefits expire.

The new proposal begins phasing out the checks the same income levels as the House bill - $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for heads of households and $150,000 for joint filers.

Couples who make less than $150,000 will receive the full amount, if the current version of the COVID-19 stimulus bill passes.

Under Wednesday's agreement, the Senate bill would instead halt the payments completely for individuals making $80,000 and couples earning $160,000, said a Democratic official, who described the agreement only on condition of anonymity.

"Nearly nine million households that would have received at least some amount of payment under the House bill would not receive any payment at all", the Times noted, citing an estimate from tax modeling specialist Kyle Pomerleau of the American Enterprise Institute, a right-wing think tank.

Under the new plan, anyone who individually earns more than $80,000 annually, or couples filing jointly earning more than $160,000 will be cut off from the checks under the revised plan.

"We can not go through the situation we did back in 2009 where the stimulus wasn't strong enough and we stayed in recession for years", Schumer said.

Several senators said they want changes to unemployment benefits and more targeted direct payments.

Progressives in the House - who are already upset that the minimum wage increase is not allowed in the package - have urged the Senate not to alter the relief package too much. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said.

Some liberal House Democrats, particularly those representing larger cities with higher living costs, have argued in the past that lower phase outs for the checks discriminate against single parents in those areas. "We'll have the votes we need to pass the bill". "The Democrats had a choice". "They chose to go it alone, tack to the left, leave families' top priorities on the cutting room floor". "This is an American wish list".

"The best campaign ads are the ones about how a politician was for something before they were against it", one Republican senator told CNN about the planned strategy ahead.

Slowly, the Senate bill's contours were taking shape. It is my hope that at the end, the Senate Republicans will unanimously oppose it, just like House Republicans did.

Among the 10 senators signing the letter were five former Democratic presidential candidates - Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, now the Senate Budget Committee chair - as well as Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown of OH and Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Democrats are using special rules that will let them avoid GOP filibusters that would require them to garner an impossible 60 votes to approve the legislation.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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