By Summer Lin
House Democrats unveiled a proposal Monday that would cap direct payments for individuals making up to $100,000 a year and couples making up to $200,000.
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, released legislation that would provide $1,400 checks to individuals earning $75,000 a year and married couples earning $150,000 a year — the same income thresholds in Biden’s $1.9 trillion emergency plan released in January. The plan has a faster phase-out than in previous proposals, capping payments at $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for couples.
The plan by House Democrats may not be the final version of the income eligibility requirements as lawmakers negotiate a bill they hope to pass before Mar. 14, the day that $300 weekly unemployment benefits approved in December’s coronavirus package expire. That timeline has added to lawmakers’ desire to go with the budget reconciliation route, a process that allows for “expedited consideration” of legislation on spending, taxes and debt and would enable Democrats to pass the bill without any GOP support.
“While it is still our hope that Republicans will join us in doing right by the American people, the urgency of the moment demands that we act without further delay,” Neal said in a statement.
Reconciliation would allow Democrats to bypass the 60-vote requirement needed to break a filibuster — meaning just a simple majority is needed to pass the bill. Democrats hold a narrow majority in the Senate, split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, as Vice President Kamala Harris serves as the tie-breaking vote.
In order for the bill to pass, Democrats will likely need the vote of Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, who has said that he wants to limit payments for those “truly in need.”
“So if they can show that $75,000 and $150,000 is truly in need,” then he’d support it, Manchin said about House Democrats, Politico reported.
Some Republicans have opposed the cost of Biden’s plan and have called for more “targeted” relief.
A group of 10 Republican senators, led by Maine’s Susan Collins, released a plan on Feb. 1 that includes $1,000 direct payments to Americans instead of the $1,400 checks proposed by Biden. The plan would provide $1,000 stimulus checks for individuals making up to $40,000 a year and phase them out completely when income reaches $50,000. Joint filers would get $2,000, with the payments phasing out beginning at $80,000 a year with an income cap at $100,000.
Biden said on a call with Democrats on Feb. 3 to hold steady on the size of the $1,400 checks — but that he would be open to reducing the income requirements for the payments, Forbes reported.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen indicated Sunday that there could be a compromise between Democrats and Republicans by capping the income eligibility for individuals at around $60,000 a year.
“If you think about an elementary school teacher or policeman making ($60,000) or $ 65,000 a year, it certainly seems appropriate that they can use that help to address the extra burdens from the pandemic,” Yellen said on “Face the Nation.”