Stimulus check update: Biden considers plan to send $1,400 only to the hardest hit

President Joe Biden is considering narrowing the pool of people who would be eligible for the next round of stimulus checks, lowering income levels for those who would get a $1,400 check from the government, The Washington Post is reporting.

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Biden along with some Democratic lawmakers are open to limiting the $1,400 direct payment to individuals earning under $50,000, with $2,800 going to married couples who earn under $100,000, the Post reported.

Biden told Democrat leaders in the House and Senate Wednesday in a private meeting that he would consider using a lower income level to target direct payments to the people who need them most.

“Maybe we can — I think we can better target that number,” Biden said, according to a source at the meeting who spoke to The New York Times on the condition of anonymity. “I’m OK with that.”

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, confirmed to reporters Wednesday that a conversation about a more targeted payment had taken place.

“We did have a conversation about the direct payments and how those might be modified in a way to ensure they’re targeted,” Coons said.

While Biden suggested he would be OK with targeting the payments, many Democrats are not.

“There’s a real sense that there’s real consequences of going small, there’s real consequences of allowing stalling,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said of the idea of using lower income levels to determine who would be eligible for the payments. Wyden is the incoming Senate Finance Committee chairman.

Other Democrats have expressed support for sticking with the income levels used to determine who received the first two direct payment checks.

“Congress must pursue a bold and robust course of action. It makes no sense to pinch pennies,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said Monday.

Since his election, Biden has said he wants a COVID relief bill that has bipartisan support, but a growing number of Republicans have said that the price tag on Biden’s plan -- $1.9 trillion – is too high.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, told CNN on Sunday that individuals earning less than $50,000 and families earning less than $100,000 should be the only ones seeing direct payments from the U.S. government.

“With regard to the direct payments, we think they should be much more targeted. $50,000 cap for individuals as an example. $100,000 for a family,” said Portman. “And right now, if you look at the administration’s plan, you can have a family with three kids to make it almost $300,000 a year getting a check, and many of these people have had no impact from COVID. In fact, some are doing quite well, others are struggling. Let’s focus on those who are struggling.”

A group of 10 GOP senators met with Biden Monday to pitch a plan that would send payments of up to $1,000 to individuals earning less than $50,000 a year. Only those whose annual income was $40,000 or below would get the full $1,000 amount.

Biden, who promised during the Georgia Senate runoff campaign to send $2,000 to Americans should the Democrats win the two Senate seats, told House and Senate Democrats Wednesday that he would consider a deal with Republicans to negotiating on parts of the nearly $2 trillion spending plan.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Democrats “seem desperate to make their first act in power the same kind of massive, partisan, poorly targeted borrowing spree that permanently wounded the last Democratic presidency right out of the gate.”

The first steps in getting a stimulus package up for a vote came Tuesday when both House and Senate Democrats initiated the reconciliation process, a way to speed up passage of the package. Under the reconciliation process, the bill could pass both chambers on a simple majority vote, meaning if all the Democrats voted for the plan, it could pass without a Republican voting for it.

Under the new plan, who would get a $1,400 payment?

Individuals earning up to $50,000 would get a $1,400 payment. Heads of household earning up to $75,000 would also get a $1,400 payment. Married couples who earn up to $100,000 would get a $2,800 payment.

Under the potential Democratic plan, parents of children would also receive an additional $1,400 per child. So if you are a family of four who makes less than $100,000 a year, you would receive a $5,600 payment.

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