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Third stimulus check: could Democrats accept targeted payments?

With Joe Biden pushing for a third stimulus check worth $1,400, Republicans are calling for the income thresholds to be lowered. Will Democrats agree?

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Third stimulus check: could Democrats accept targeted payments?
KEVIN LAMARQUE REUTERS

Lawmakers in Washington are currently negotiating the next coronavirus relief package, which looks likely include a third round for stimulus checks. Though how much those checks will be worth and who will be eligible remains very much up in the air.

President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan includes a proposal for another round stimulus checks worth $1,400. However, Biden said he is open to more targeted relief this time, which could mean that the income thresholds – $75,000 for individuals and $150,00 for married couples – set for the previous rounds of payments could be lowered.

Earlier this week, a group of 10 Republican senators presented a stimulus relief proposal worth $618 billion that would lower the value of stimulus checks to $1,000, while also lowering the income thresholds to $40,000 for individuals and $80,000 for married couples filing jointly.

Democrats could be open to more targeted stimulus check

Biden is very much set on sending $1,400, after the disappointment following the passing of the last $600 check in December, which many Americans criticized for being woefully insufficient.

But with the president very much in favor of passing a bi-partisan-backed bill, Democrats may be willing to budge on some areas of his America Rescue Plan in order to gain Republican supports.

For example, they may reject the Republican proposal to drop the value of stimulus checks to $1,000, but could agree to lowering the income threshold levels to those outlined in the Republican plan, or at least close to them. This may be something that both parties could eventually agree on as was indicated in a Senate vote on Thursday.

US President Joe Biden at the US State Department in Washington, DC, USA, 04 February 2021.

Senate votes to bar wealthy from stimulus checks

Senators voted overwhelming in favor (99-1) of an amendment brought forward by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, which would bar "upper-income taxpayers" from eligibility for the direct cash payments.

"The question before us is quite simple. Do we want stimulus checks to go to households with family incomes of $300,000?” said Collins on the Senate floor on Thursday. “Or do we want to target the assistance to struggling families who need the help and provide a boost for the economy?"

"I don't think a single person on this floor would disagree to target the relief to our neighbors who are struggling," Manchin said. "There are other families who have not missed a single paycheck as a result of this pandemic. It does not make sense to send a check to those individuals."

Sen. Bernie Sanders pointed out that no one supported sending money to families earning more than $300,000 a year, but urged his colleagues to keep the threshold level in line with previous relief packages.

However the original threshold levels of $75,000 and $150,00 will be a hard sell with Republicans and all indications are that President Biden and many of Sander’s Democrat colleagues will be willing to lower them if it means getting the other side of the Upper House to agree to the $1,400 checks.