Democrats are looking for ways to lower the cost of stimulus relief checks that would be given to households. This comes as they hope to acquire support from the Republican party for the next COVID-19 relief bill.
At a White House meeting on Wednesday, President Joe Biden and top Democratic Senators talked about direct payments. They discussed possible modifications that will make sure payments are “targeted,” as per Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.).
With this, White House press secretary Jen Psaki mentioned that the administration is taking into account the possibility of lowering the income level of those who are meant to receive the check but not the amount of money given itself
Many Democrats have supported the president’s plan, the American Rescue Plan, which is a stimulus package worth $1.9 trillion. It includes funds for unemployment benefits and vaccine distribution. It also includes funding for the direct payments that would provide $1,400 per person. The Democratic lawmakers have started the legislative process for this plan that would let them pass a bill even without Republican backing.
In March 2020, Congress has approved payments worth $1,200, while it also approved payments worth $600 in December. The president’s proposal aims to make up the difference between the December payments and his promise during his campaign of $2000 payments.
With a more “targeted” way of releasing stimulus, it can bring the annual income threshold down. People who go above it will no longer be eligible to receive the full amount. By doing so, wealthier households would likely miss out on the $1,400 follow-up payment.
On Wednesday, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) mentioned that households who got the first two stimulus checks will rely on the third to pay the bills.”
Democrats Consider Targeted Approach to Stimulus Check Distribution
In the previous two stimulus relief rounds, the threshold for receiving the full amount was at $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples. Those who have a yearly income above these received smaller checks or no check at all. Nevertheless, 90% of American households received payments from the second stimulus round.
With the targeted approach for stimulus checks, Democrats may consider lowering this to $50,000 for individuals or $100,000 for couples.
Earlier in the week, 10 GOP senators had a meeting with the president at the White House. There, the group pitched a smaller relief package worth only $600 million. This plan entails only $1,000 in direct payments while lowering the income eligibility threshold to $50,000.
While the meeting was cordial and with both sides promising to continue bipartisan discussions, Biden did not say nor leave an impression that he would let go of a larger-scale relief package. However, he seems to be keener on the idea that the payments should be more targeted.
At the moment, it is unknown if there will be Republicans who would back the next COVID-19 relief bill, even if Democrats agree on a more targeted approach. However, Democrats made it clear that they intend to pass a big relief bill, even without Republican support. They can do this by simply getting a majority vote through a process called reconciliation, which they already formally started this week in Congress.