White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday morning that President Joe Biden is still open to reducing the number of Americans who receive another round of stimulus checks in order to better target low-income workers and to help Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal garner the support it needs from lawmakers ahead of a crucial mid-March deadline for the bill to pass.
President Joe Biden speaks at an event to sign an executive order on the economy with Vice President … [+]
Though the president is willing to target checks to “ensure they hit the Americans who need that help the most,” he is not willing to negotiate the size of the checks, which stand at $1,400 for individuals and $2,800 for couples, Psaki said on Fox News Sunday.
She also said targeting relief checks has been an idea that’s garnered bipartisan support in meetings to discuss aid with the president as his $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal, which passed in the House early Saturday, heads to the Senate this week.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told CNN on Sunday that Democrats will move ahead with a stimulus bill that “probably will get no Republican votes in the Senate,” alluding to the likelihood that any proposal will need support from all 50 Democrats in order to pass with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), who has called Biden’s current proposal too big, has been among Democrats saying that checks shouldn’t use the same qualifying income level as the last round of stimulus checks, and should instead be more narrowly targeted to Americans who have lost income during the pandemic.
Though no new thresholds have been established for targeted stimulus checks, Manchin was among lawmakers who introduced a provision for targeted relief that passed the Senate in a 99-1 vote on February 4.
Individuals earning less than $75,000 annually, and couples making less than $150,000, received the full direct payments in the latest rounds of relief; income caps for any payment at all were $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for couples.
“We know that the bill will look different on the way out [of the Senate] than it did when [Biden] presented it in his primetime address,” Psaki said Sunday. “But there is an urgency here… because by the middle of March, 11 million Americans will lose unemployment insurance, so we need to move quickly and rapidly to get this relief out to the Americans,” she added, referencing the March 14 expiration date for $400-per-week unemployment insurance.
Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal passed in the House early Saturday morning with no support from Republicans and two defecting Democrats in a 219-212 vote. Manchin hasn’t said exactly how much he’d like the new income threshold to be, but it’s likely to be at least exceed $50,000–which is the amount a group of Republicans proposed as the income cap in a bill introduced earlier this month. The House-passed bill includes $350 billion for state and local governments–another area that could be reduced given Manchin opposition in the past.
Speaking to CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said Republicans are willing to work with Democrats on the upcoming stimulus package but called it a “joke” that the Biden administration has reached out to Republicans in earnest to negotiate the bill.
It’s unclear just how much the current stimulus plan will need to be trimmed in order to garner the support it needs to pass in the Senate, but market analyst Adam Crisafulli, the founder of Vital Knowledge Media, said Saturday in a note to clients that he expects the bill will likely get reduced to $1.6 trillion before it passes.
House Passes Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill (Forbes)
Conservative Democrat Joe Manchin Says He Won’t Hold Up Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan (Forbes)
I’m a reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I double-majored in business journalism