Millions Of Americans Would Lose COVID-19 Stimulus Checks Under Senate Democrats’ Cap
US dollar bills, illustration

A proposal by Senate Democrats to lower the income cap for COVID-19 stimulus checks would leave out nearly 12 million Americans, according to a new analysis.

Under the latest proposal, individuals earning up to $75,000 per year would receive $1,400 checks, but the payments would decline sharply up to $80,000, where they would phase out completely.

About 200 million Americans would get the stimulus checks under the new Senate plan, which is 11.8 million fewer than a relief bill passed by the House last week, according to estimates from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. That bill sets a $100,000 income cap.

“The Senate bill would benefit 86 percent of adults and 85 percent of children, compared to 91 percent of adults and 90 percent of children under the House-passed bill. But among the bottom 60 percent of Americans, those who most need help, both versions of the proposal would benefit 100 percent of adults and children,” the Institute said.

“The cash payments in the Senate proposal would phase out for those with income exceeding $75,000 in the case of singles, $112,500 in the case of single parents, and $150,000 in the case of married couples–just as in the House-passed bill. However, the Senate Democrats propose to phase out the payments at a steeper rate. For example, the Senate version would phase the cash payments out entirely for singles with $80,000 of income, compared to $100,000 of income under the House-passed bill,” according to the analysis.

While the bottom 60% of earners would qualify for full payments in both plans, the think tank found that some 4.6 million fewer children would benefit.

For his part, President Joe Biden has backed the Senate Democrats’ plan to cut off individuals making more than $80,000 a year. But during the presidential campaign, Biden promised to deliver $2,000 checks, and the White House now contends that combined with $600 checks in the last stimulus signed by former President Donald Trump, Biden has kept his word.

“What the President promised and committed to was ensuring that the American people receive $2,000 in checks.  This $1,400 is part of delivering on that promise. He also proposed, of course, a higher threshold, as you know, in his own proposal, in his joint session speech that he delivered a couple of weeks ago,” White House Press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday.

“He has also been clear that he is open to changes on the margins of this package.  While he is very firm on the $1,400 — and, as you know, there’s been negotiations about trying to lower that to $1,000 or change the size of the check — he’s unmovable on that; repeated that to me again this morning.  And he has been very clear that the threshold should be at 75K and 150K for families,” she said.

“But he also knows that the sausage-making machine sometimes spits out a different package — almost always it spits out a different package than what is proposed initially. These are negotiations primarily through Democrats in Congress with each other, but he’s a part of — you know, he rolls up his sleeves; he gets involved in them too. And, you know, he’s confident that this is a package, with all of the components included, that — and he’s hopeful that Democrats of all political backgrounds can get behind,” Psaki said.

The nearly $2 trillion relief package is expected to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate this week with little Republican support. The House would have to approve the changes then send the bill to Biden. Checks could go out within days after Biden signs the bill.

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