President Joe Biden has agreed to curtail stimulus payments in a Senate compromise with moderate Democrats that will result in 12 million fewer adults and five million fewer children receiving the pandemic relief.
Under the changes agreed to by Biden and Senate Democratic leadership, individuals earning $75,000 annually and couples earning $150,000 would still receive the full $1,400-per-person benefit. However, the benefit would no longer apply to individuals earning more than $80,000 a year and couples earning more than $160,000.
That means singles earning $80,000-to-$100,000 and couples earning $160,000-to-$200,000 are now excluded from a partial benefit under the revised structure.
The change came as Biden and Senate Democratic leaders scrambled to keep their caucus united. They cannot lose a single Democrat in the 50-50 Senate if Republicans unite against the legislation, Washington Post reported.
Around 12 million fewer adults and 5 million fewer children would get the stimulus payments under the new Biden-Senate compromise, according to estimates from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy think tank. About 200 million adults and 80 million children will still be eligible for relief under the new structure.
Although every Democratic senator supports a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, a handful of moderate Senate Democrats have been fighting for weeks to prevent $1,400 covid-relief checks from reaching their own upper-middle-class constituents.
They have “no coherent political or substantive argument for their position,” but the Democratic leadership caved to their demand on Wednesday, New York Magazine reported.
Progressive Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said in a statement, “I don’t understand the political or economic wisdom in allowing Trump to give more people relief checks than a Democratic administration. People went far too long without relief last year — if anything we should be more generous, not more stingy. It’s also an insensitive compromise for the roughly 80 percent of Americans that live in urban areas, which are known for higher costs of living.”
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The changes would save about $15 billion in a nearly $2 trillion piece of legislation, according to an estimate from Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, CNBC reported.
It makes the relief package 0.63 percent cheaper, according to a Democrat who spoke with the Washington Post’s Jeff Stein.
Disagreements in the party could have threatened Democrats’ plans to get the bill through the Senate by this weekend and on Biden’s desk by March 14, when unemployment aid programs expire. The House is expected to approve the Senate’s version of the bill next week. The Senate plan is set to keep the same unemployment insurance supplement passed by the House. It would add a $400 per week jobless benefit through Aug. 29, according to CNBC.