WASHINGTON — Senate Democratic leaders and President Joe Biden have agreed to more narrowly target which Americans would be eligible for a $1,400 stimulus payment in the latest COVID-19 relief measure, a Democratic source familiar with the negotiations said Wednesday.
To ease the bill’s way with moderate Senate Democrats, the proposed new version allows single filers with annual income under $75,000 to receive the full amount, phasing it out entirely for those with incomes of $80,000 and higher.
Joint filers with annual incomes of less than $150,000 would each receive the full amount, but those above $160,000 would get no check. Those filing as a head of household who make less than $112,500 will get the full amount, phasing out at $120,000.
Tens of millions of Americans are still expected to get a check, but fewer will receive one than under the version passed last week by the House. Under the House bill, payments phased out at $100,000 for individuals, $200,000 for couples and $150,000 for heads of households.
“I think it’s an appropriate way of bringing this to a successful conclusion,” Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said.
Not every Democrat was on board with the proposed change.
“People desperately need resources, and we need to get these checks out the door,” Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said. “I think the package as it was originally crafted is good to go.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that Biden also would have preferred the higher income threshold in the House bill, but understands that compromise is needed.
As part of the new proposal, Senate Democrats would maintain the $400 weekly federal unemployment supplement Biden requested and the House passed, rather than dropping it to $300, as some moderates requested.
The other most notable change from the House version will be removing language to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough advised last week that because Democrats are using a special budget reconciliation process to move the bill quickly without Republican support, they cannot include policy changes, such as raising the national minimum wage.
Another option being considered was providing the expanded federal unemployment aid through September, rather than ending it in August.
The bill also includes billions of dollars for COVID-19 vaccines and coronavirus testing; for schools and state and local governments; a quarter of a trillion in emergency jobless benefits; and targeted aid to the ailing restaurant and airline industries.
Republicans have called the bill too expensive and say it doesn’t spend enough on directly fighting the disease or reopening schools and businesses. They’ve lambasted the package for including Democratic priorities unrelated to the virus, such as transit projects in Silicon Valley and New York, and shoring up state and local government budgets.
Both transit projects were removed from the bill Tuesday evening.