CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Third stimulus check: How much of the $600 billion package will go directly to the people?

A group of ten Republican senators met with President Biden to discuss a new covid-19 economic relief bill proposal which would see stimulus check provision slashed.

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Third stimulus check: How much of the $600 billion package will go directly to the people?
Yuri Gripas / POOL EFE

On Monday evening a group of ten moderate Republican senators met with President Biden in the Oval Office to discuss the future of the covid-19 economic relief bill that he hopes to pass in the coming days.

The meeting was the result of a letter, sent by the group’s leader Senator Susan Collins of Maine, informing Biden of a counter-proposal being drafted. Unlike Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the GOP package includes around $600 billion of federal funding and reduces the stimulus check provision considerably.

Republican lawmakers propose reduced stimulus checks

The area of stimulus checks is one of the key differences between the American Rescue Plan and the new Republican proposal. For a start the maximum entitlement is reduced from $1,400 to $1,000, a considerable deduction when spread across a family.

This will annoy those on the progressive wing of the Democratic Party who have argued that Biden’s plan does not go far enough, and have called for a round of $2,000 stimulus checks. A group of Democrat lawmakers have signed a letter calling on Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to consider replacing the stimulus checks with a recurring monthly payment.

Another key change made in the GOP draft is a narrowing of eligibility to mean that fewer Americans are able to receive stimulus checks, or will be entitled to a smaller amount. Biden’s plan was to expand eligibility slightly, allowing adult dependents to be included for the first time.

In contrast the Republican proposal would lower the top threshold, meaning that around 29 million fewer Americans would be eligible. They argue that this targets the money more effectively, but the total amount provided in stimulus checks would certainly go down. In total, Biden’s package provides $465bn of direct payments, compared to $220bn in the GOP version.

What has Biden said about the Republicans’ $600 billion proposal?

A White House statement released shortly after the meeting finished made clear that while Biden is eager to find a bipartisan solution, getting support out to the people is his top priority. The statement from Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the meeting was born of a “desire to get help to the American people, who are suffering through the worst health and economic crisis in a generation.”

As a long-time member of the Senate himself the President is far more comfortable negotiating deals with other lawmakers than his predecessor, but on this occasion he believes the GOP proposal is insufficient.

During the meeting he: “reiterated his view that Congress must respond boldly and urgently, and noted many areas which the Republican senators’ proposal does not address”.

With steps already being taken in Congress to prepare the ground for use of reconciliation, it appears that Biden is resigned to having to pass his American Rescue Plan without the bipartisan support that he had wanted. In the final line of the White House statement, the Biden administration refuses to “settle for a package that fails to meet the moment.”