Individuals making less than $75,000 or couples making less than $150,000 will still be eligible for a full $1,400 payment under the new agreement. But partial payments will be capped at $80,000 for individuals and $160,000 for couples.
The House version of the bill allowed reduced payments to those earning up to $100,000 and couples earning up to $200,000. The change means that some who would have received partial payments under the House bill will no longer receive a check.
The agreement comes as Biden and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer jostle to keep the caucus united in support of the president’s signature bill.
The Senate is currently divided evenly, which means the defection of even one Democratic senator could hurt the bill’s prospects. Moderate Democrats had been lobbying to lower the income threshold on direct payments to ensure that checks are sent to the hardest hit families.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., led that charge and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that Biden has been listening closely to the senator’s proposals. She also said that Biden is “comfortable with where the negotiations stand.”
“He has been open from the beginning for that being more targeted and for there to be a steeper cliff at which that ramp-down ends,” Psaki said.
Some of the more progressive members of the Democratic conference aren’t pleased with the agreement. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said she preferred the higher income eligibility.
“The package as it was originally crafted is good to go,” Cantwell said.
But no Democrat has signaled that this change will cause them to vote against the overall package.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., called the agreement a “reasonable compromise,” but it may also be a necessary one if Democrats are hoping to complete the legislation before the March 14 deadline when unemployment benefits expire.
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