President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan would provide a third round of federal stimulus checks to millions of Americans. Yet while lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed support for the proposal, there is less agreement on who should be eligible for the $1,400 direct payments.
Congressional Democrats are moving forward with passing Mr. Biden’s relief plan through a process called budget reconciliation, which would allow the Senate to pass the effort without any Republican support. As the process moves forward, House and Senate committees will discuss spending priorities before drafting and voting on legislation. That’s expected to occur later this week, according to economists at Goldman Sachs.
On February 4, the Senate approved a bipartisan plan introduced by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Republican Senator Susan Collins to block “upper income citizens” from the next round of stimulus checks. Notably, however, the plan doesn’t define “upper income.” The measure would ensure that “the struggling families that need it most” would receive the checks, Collins said in a statement.
The amendment adds “uncertainty whether all the Senate Democrats will support President Joe Biden’s full plan, with Joe Manchin already expressing doubts about the need to send $1,400 stimulus checks to those that might not need the money,” Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, told investors in a research note.
Here’s what the experts are saying about the next stimulus check and who may be eligible.
Why are income limits an issue?
The first two government stimulus checks — $1,200 for the first round and $600 for the second round — also set income thresholds that made higher-income households ineligible for the payments. In both earlier rounds, single people who earned up to $75,000 and married couples who earned up to $150,000 received the full payments.
People with higher earnings got smaller payouts as their incomes rose, until the payments cut off entirely for higher-income families. In the first round, the phaseout stood at $99,000 for single people and $198,000 for married couples.
In the second round, the phaseout was slightly lower — $87,000 a year per single person and $174,000 per married couple. But that was a function of the smaller size of the checks, given that the law reduced both checks by 5% for every $100 earned above the income limits for full payments.
Recent economic research indicates that finances have stabilized for many middle- and higher-income families. That is stirring debate among lawmakers and experts over whether the direct aid should be targeted toward lower-income households, who are more likely to feel the ongoing economic impact of the coronavirus…
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