In early February, President Biden reiterated his support for the $1,400 stimulus payment checks as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, saying “I’m not cutting the size of the checks. That’s what the American people were promised.”
What people want to know the most are the eligibility criteria for the stimulus payments. A budget bill passed in the Senate in February with a 51-50 vote, and it then went to the House of Representatives.
“Next week, the committees of jurisdiction will take those targeted amounts and make the established priorities there,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in early February. The House has since passed the stimulus bill.
The direct payment of $1,400 per person in Biden’s plan is to supplement the $600 Congress approved as part of the second stimulus. Under his original plan, eligible individuals include single people earning up to $75,000 and married couples earning up to $150,000. However, he has said that there’s a need “to target that money. So, folks making $300,000 don’t get any windfall.”
Now in early March, CNBC, citing a Democratic source, says the phaseout, which starts at $75,000 for single filers, now would be capped at $80,000. The phaseout starting at $150,000 for joint filers now would be capped at $160,000. For heads of household, the phaseout starts at $112,500 and would now be capped at $120,000. The $400 weekly unemployment insurance benefit is expected to remain in the bill.
This echoes the sentiments of Republicans — as well as some Democrats, including West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin — who wanted to lower the eligibility criteria. During the vote in February, Manchin, along with Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney and 13 others, introduced an amendment to the bill to “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to targeting economic impact payments to Americans who are suffering from the effects of COVID-19, including provisions to ensure upper-income taxpayers are not eligible,” according to the amendment.
Along with that, Treasury Secretary Janey Yellen provided some guidance, saying in a CNN interview that the administration was willing to work with members of Congress “to define what’s fair.”
“And we wouldn’t want to see households making over $300,000 receive these payments. But if you think about an elementary school teacher or a policeman making $60,000 a year, and faced with children who are out of school and people who may have had to withdraw from the labor force in order to take care of them and many extra burdens, I would — he thinks, and I would certainly agree, that it’s appropriate for people there to get support,” Yellen told CNN. “The exact details of how it should be targeted are to be determined, but struggling middle-class families need help,” she added.
This is just a bit higher than what some senators in both parties are pushing, seeking to begin phasing out checks at $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for joint filers, and ending them entirely for individuals making $75,000 and $150,000 for couples, according to Politico.
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