President Joe Biden, seeking bipartisan support for his $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, said Monday he would negotiate over the $1,400 direct payments he proposed in the legislation.
Biden said he simply adopted the proposal from the House-passed legislation that was embraced by former President Donald Trump, saying he thought it would increase the chance of getting the larger bill through Congress. The payment, added to the $600 already going out to Americans, would raise the second stimulus check to $2,000.
“There’s 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 or why?’” Biden told reporters. “I’m open to negotiate those things. That’s all. I picked it because I thought it was rational, reasonable, and it had overwhelming bipartisan support in the House when it passed. But this is all a bit of a moving target.”
But some lawmakers of both parties objected to the way the money would be distributed, and Biden said he would try to address their concerns.
While the payments would be phased out under incomes exceeding $75,000 for singles and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly, the current formula means that a family of four, which would start with $8,000 in stimulus checks, would have to have an adjusted gross income of $310,000 before their payments would end, according to calculations by the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget. For a family with five children, the cutoff would be $430,000.
“I prefer these things to be bipartisan because I’m trying to generate some consensus and take sort of the, how can I say it, the vitriol out of all of this,” Biden said.
Better targeting the stimulus payments also was discussed at a Sunday meeting with Biden administration officials and the bipartisan group of lawmakers whose proposal last year jump-started final talks that led to passage of a $900 billion package and are weighing in on this one.
“I’m confident that we can get there, and include our top priorities — vaccine distribution, direct help for our families that need it, and support for state and local governments,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist., one of the lawmakers on the call.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Monday that congressional Democrats could use a procedure known as reconciliation to prevent a filibuster and pass a stimulus plan by a simple majority vote in each chamber.
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That’s the same process Republicans used to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to pass a tax law that the Congressional Budget Office said increased the federal deficit by $1.9 trillion over 10 years, the same size as Biden’s stimulus proposal.
“The American people are hurting,” Sanders said, according to pool reports. “They want action. They need help.”
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