- President Joe Biden has expressed a willingness to negotiate who can get a third stimulus check during a call with House Democrats.
- “We can better target the number – I’m OK with that,” Biden said, The Times reported.
- Calls to target a fresh wave of $US1,400 stimulus checks for lower-income households are gaining steam in Congress.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
President Joe Biden told House Democrats during a caucus call on Wednesday morning that he is open to compromising around who can get a $US1,400 stimulus check.
“We can’t walk away from an additional $US1,400 in direct checks, because people need it,” he said, per The New York Times. “I’m not going to start my administration by breaking a promise to people.”
“We can better target the number â€” I’m OK with that,” Biden later said. A person briefed on the call confirmed to Insider that the president said he was willing to negotiate on direct payments.
Biden later met with a group of Democratic senators in the White House to discuss his proposed $US1.9 trillion emergency spending package. It includes provisions such as a fresh wave of $US1,400 stimulus checks, $US400 federal unemployment benefits, vaccine distribution funds, and aid for states and cities.
In recent days, Biden and other White House officials have suggested they are willing to modify the income thresholds on stimulus checks but not reducing their amount. Jen Psaki, the White House spokesperson, said it was under negotiations.
“Further targeting means not the size of the check, it means the income level of people who receive the check,” she said on Wednesday. “That’s something that is under discussion.”
Under the Biden plan, individuals earning under $US75,000 would get the full amount, along with married couples making below $US150,000. The threshold is capped at $US99,000 for single-filers and $US198,000 for couples.
“We did have a conversation about the direct payments and how those might be modified to ensure they are targeted,” Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware told reporters after meeting with Biden. The senator added he would personally not back a relief plan that contained no funding for state and local governments.
Biden’s remarks reflect a willingness to negotiate on certain components of his economic relief package without shrinking its overall size. On Tuesday, the president urged Democrats during a Senate lunch to go big.
Democrats are dashing to enact his plan through reconciliation, a legislative manoeuvre that would allow them to approve it with a simple majority vote in the Senate and avoid the 60-vote threshold for most bills. The process kicked off on Tuesday without any GOP lawmakers voting for it.
Republicans and some Democrats are expressing concern that the government could end up cutting checks for wealthy households with six-figure incomes. Sen. Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday that the federal government sending a cash payment to a family making $US300,000 was “hard to defend.”
A group of Republican senators led by Susan Collins of Maine put forward a $US618 billion plan on Monday that would cut off $US1,000 direct payments for individuals earning more than $US50,000 a year and couples making $US100,000.
The measure significantly scales back the income parameters and reduces the cash amount. Several economists project at least 29 million households that qualify under the Biden plan would be excluded in the Republican proposal.
It remains unclear what income thresholds lawmakers will settle on as negotiations continue.
Experts say the social safety net provides little aid for people who have suffered lost hours or wage cuts without losing their jobs. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated over 20% of people earning between $US50,000 and $US75,000 yearly who lost work experienced food insecurity at some point in the pandemic.
“If you don’t lose your job, in a lot of places of America there isn’t help for you right now,” Ernie Tedeschi, policy economist at Evercore ISI, told Insider.