Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said Wednesday that a compromise stimulus bill on COVID-19 relief could include checks between $500 and $1,200 for tens of millions of Americans.
President Donald Trump and leaders of both parties have publicly supported sending additional relief to Americans hit hard by the pandemic, but the checks have been caught up in a conflict over other issues in what is expected to be a nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.
While a $908 billion bipartisan proposal doesn’t recommend direct checks, Manchin said he thinks it could be in the final bill. “I’m understanding that it could be maybe some direct payments in lieu of state and local [aid],” Manchin said on CNN.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reportedly informed the Trump administration that they support $600 stimulus checks for Americans in any new stimulus package.
McCarthy said he and McConnell backed the stimulus checks that were included in a White House $916 billion compromise measure, Axios reported. The political website said McCarthy, McConnell, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows discussed the inclusion of the checks.
McConnell has opposed the checks for Americans and did not include them in a framework he released earlier this month. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) later rejected the White House proposal.
Meanwhile, the $908 billion bill, of which Manchin is a co-sponsor, would deliver another $160 billion to states and cities and $180 billion for unemployment insurance, two issues Democrats have pushed hard. The unemployment benefits would pay $300 per week for 18 weeks, retroactive to Dec. 1, which is half of what was included in the CARES Act passed in March.
The proposal would also set aside $288 billion for assistance to small businesses via the Paycheck Protection Program. In addition, the bill would free up $45 billion for transportation-related industries such as airlines and $16 billion for development of a COVID-19 vaccine development. Another $182 billion would be used for healthcare provider relief fund, education, student loans, housing assistance, nutrition, and agriculture programs and the U.S. Postal Service.
“This is a COVID emergency relief framework,” Manchin said last week, adding it would be “inexcusable” for Congress to adjourn without providing more aid. “It’s not the time for political brinkmanship. … This is going to get us through the most difficult times.”
Under the first stimulus bill Congress passed in March, individuals were eligible for payments up to $1,200, but that amount declined for those with an adjusted gross income higher than $75,000 a year. The $1,200 payment dropped by 5% of every dollar above $75,000, or $50 for every $1,000. The benefit didn’t apply to individuals with incomes over $99,000.
Married couples with combined incomes up to $150,000 were eligible to receive $2,400, subject to the same phaseout that applied to individuals. The payments phased out entirely for couples making $198,000 or more. Families also got $500 per dependent child under the age of 16.
Approximately 120 million U.S. taxpayers qualified for direct payments from the federal government under the bill. But since then, Congress has offered no aid to Americans, only businesses and state and local governments.