US President Joe Biden has agreed to moderate Democrats’ demands to narrow eligibility for the 1,400$ stimulus payments included in the 1.9$ trillion pandemic-relief bill, according to a Democratic aide.

Individuals earning over 80,000$ now won’t qualify for the payments, compared with a 100,000 $cap in the previously drafted legislation, the aide said on condition of anonymity. The ceiling for couples will now be 160,000$ against 200,000$ before.

Democratic Senators including Joe Manchin of West Virginia & Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire had advocated tighter targeting of help to the neediest in the giant Covid-19 assistance package. Their votes will be critical in passing the legislation given the Senate’s 50-50 partisan split and united Republican opposition to Biden’s bill.

A separate push by moderates to trim the 400$-a-week supplemental unemployment benefits in the bill that the House passed last week to 300$ won’t be included in what is initially brought to the Senate floor, according to the aide. The Senate’s so-called managers’ amendment to the House bill is expected to keep the House’s figure, which is a 100$-a-week increase from the current level through August.

Senate Timeline

For the stimulus checks, phasing out of the 1,400$ payments starts at 75,000$ per individual and 150,000$ for couples, the same as set in the House bill, the aide said.

“I think we could drop it below the 200,000$ & still provide help to households that still need it,” Shaheen said earlier this week in arguing for changes to the stimulus-check eligibility.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether all Senate Democrats have accepted the compromise, although discussions had continued about it into last night. The language Joe Biden approved gives both the moderate and progressive wings of the Senate Democratic caucus one item they wanted in the final negotiations.

Joe Biden met with 9 moderate Democrats at the White House earlier this week as he sought their support in enacting his first signature piece of legislation.

House version of the aid bill must be tweaked, as some of its elements were found to violate congressional rules; among senators’ tasks is removing the minimum-wage hike & slightly trimming the overall cost.

Senate Democrats will proceed with debate on the package once the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office & the Joint Committee on Taxation affirm that the managers’ amendment to the House bill qualifies for protections against a filibuster, said a Senate Democratic aide.


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