$1,400 stimulus check: new eligibility criteria for payment to filers
Democrat sources suggest that the upper threshold to receive the third direct payment will be changed to ensure that the new stimulus bill is passed by the Senate.
Reports suggest that Senate Democrats are planning to amend the eligibility requirements for the third round of stimulus checks which would see fewer Americans receive payments.
According to NBC, sources from within the Democratic Party have revealed that the top threshold to receive any of the direct payment will be lowered in a bid to make the American Rescue Plan more likely to pass the Senate.
Changes made to stimulus check eligibility
The new covid-19 relief bill passed the House of Representatives last week as is expected to be introduced in the Senate later today, but the bill can still be amended up to the point when it is passed in the Upper House.
Democratic sources, who have asked to remain anonymous, claim that the decision to lower the upper threshold comes just a day after moderate Democratic senators met with President Joe Biden and expressed concern that the financial support offered in the bill was not targeted enough.
They report that while the headline thresholds of $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a couple will remain, the support will phase out much quickly for anyone earning more than those amounts.
The stimulus checks will no longer be sent to individuals earning more than $80,000 (rather than $100,000); while the support for couples will now end at $160,000 (as opposed to $200,000 in the original proposal).
This move would not affect anyone eligible for the full $1,400 stimulus checks, but would significantly reduce the number of ‘middle-earners’ who would receive a portion of the payment. Weeks earlier, during a Senate vote-a-rama, the chamber voted 99-1 in favour of an unbinding amendment that would called for the stimulus check payments to be more targeted. As the Senate prepares to debate the bill it appears that will be the case.
Unemployment benefits remain but other federal spending curbed
The Democrat insiders have also revealed that the planned $400 additional weekly unemployment benefits will remain in the final bill, despite some calls to reduce the amount. The CARES Act, signed in law nearly 12 months ago, provided weekly jobless support of $600 per person, but that was reduced to $300 in the emergency relief bill signed by former President Trump in December.
The need to extend the federal emergency unemployment benefits is one of the key priorities for Biden as the Senate prepares to debate the bill. The existing provision is set to end on 14 March, which would see millions of Americans lose the support overnight if a new deal is not agreed.
There have been some elements removed however, with plans for a $1.5 million bridge between New York state and Canada and a “rapid transit project” for the south of San Francisco costing around $140 million trimmed from the bill.
Iin recent days Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has been optimistic about the prospect of passing the new stimulus package, saying: “We want to get the biggest, strongest bill that can pass, and that’s what we’re going to do.”