President Joe Biden has expressed willingness to change the income thresholds required for his proposed $1,400 stimulus check so that higher-earning Americans less affected by the economic downturn would not quality for the payment The move may help stave off congressional Republicans who have criticized his $1.9 trillion pandemic stimulus proposal for being too costly.
“There is legitimate reason for people to say, ‘Do you have the lines drawn the exact right way? Should it go to anybody making over X number of dollars? I’m open to negotiate those things,'” Biden told journalists during an executive order signing on Monday.
However, the president also said “time is of the essence,” and that he would rather pass a large stimulus bill than “cherry-pick” individual proposals because he sees all the items in his proposal as supporting one another and integral to helping the country.
Biden’s $1.9 million proposal includes not only the $1,400 stimulus checks, but also increasing unemployment benefits from $300 a week to $400, a rise in the national minimum wage, an expansion of paid leave, money for the safe reopening of schools, funding to help small businesses and state and local governments, as well as $160 billion for a national vaccination program.
However, the proposal garnered criticism from congressional Republicans, including for the stimulus checks. In a 75-minute call with 16 senators held Sunday afternoon, Republican Maine Senator Susan Collins asked why families making $300,000 would be eligible for a check and said she’d prefer economic relief efforts to be focused on lower-income workers, according to Politico.
In a recent speech, Republican Texas Representative Kevin Brady criticized the idea of additional stimulus checks, stating, “Will this stimulate our local economies? Not a lot. What we know is that much of this extra $1,600 [sic] will go to pay down credit card debt, or savings, or even make new purchases online at Walmart, Best Buy, or Amazon.”
On Monday, Biden said that he’d prefer to bill to be passed by a bipartisan congressional consensus to help remove “vitriol” bubbling between the parties, but was willing to consider alternative ways to pass the proposal if need be.
“I’m confident, from my discussions, there are a number of Republicans who know we have to do something about the food insecurity for people in this pandemic. I’m confident they know we have to do something,” Biden added.
Newsweek contacted the White House for comment.