President Joe Biden reaffirmed his commitment to $1,400 stimulus checks as his $1.9 trillion aid package moved closer to a vote on Friday. While the amount may not change, it’s unclear whether the income eligibility criteria would remain the same.
“I'm not cutting the size of the checks. They're going to be $1,400 — period,” Biden said at a press conference on Friday. “That's what the American people were promised.”
Under Biden’s stimulus plan, eligible recipients would get a $1,400 payment plus $1,400 for all dependents. Single filers who make up to $75,000 would qualify for the full payment, while those who earn less than $100,00 would get a phased-out payment, according to the initial proposal. But some lawmakers have been pushing for lower income thresholds.
A group of 10 Republican senators, including Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and seven others, introduced a $618 billion stimulus proposal to counter Biden’s plan. Their plan also includes stimulus checks.
Under the GOP plan, the direct payments are cut down to $1,000 plus $500 for all dependents. Additionally, the income thresholds are lower; single filers who make up to $40,000 would be eligible for the full payment, and those who earn under $50,000 would qualify for a reduced check.
While Biden said he won’t cut down the amount of the payments, he hasn’t said he won’t adjust the income thresholds. The same group of senators urged him to consider this in a letter on Thursday.
“Our goal is to target those direct payments to families with the greatest needs,” the senators wrote in a letter on Thursday. “We are encouraged by reports that your Administration is considering further targeting the direct payments to lower- and middle-income families.”
As part of the “vote-a-rama” process on Thursday and Friday in the Senate, one amendment that came from a bipartisan group of senators including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) would prevent “upper-income households” from getting the $1,400 stimulus checks under Biden’s stimulus plan was adopted.
While the amendment is only advisory, Democrats may need to consider it or other amendments while putting together the reconciliation bill that needs 51 votes or the support of the entire Democratic caucus in the Senate, along with Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote.
Manchin supported the advancement of the budget resolution, but wants bipartisan support. The adoption of some of the amendments may provide that cover.
“The President remains hopeful that we can have bipartisan support moving forward,” Manchin said in a statement on Tuesday. “I will only support proposals that will get us through and end the pain of this pandemic.”