March 3, 2021

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Third stimulus check update: Here’s who qualifies for $1,400 under revised House proposal – NJ.com

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House Democrats on Monday ignored calls to reduce stimulus payments and limit who would be eligible for them, and instead proposed to give $1,400 payments to individuals making $75,000 and to married couples making up to $150,000, plus their dependents, both children and adults.

The House Ways and Means Committee legislation, to be debated and voted on this week, pushed aside efforts to reduce the payments to $1,000 and to cut the thresholds for the maximum payment by one-third to $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for couples.

The bill also extends temporary unemployment insurance through Aug. 29 and increases the extra weekly federal payment to $400 from $300, expands the Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without children and the Child Tax Credit, and increases Affordable Care Act tax credits for two years to lower health insurance premiums.

“Our nation is in pain and our neighbors cry out for aid. We hear them,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-9th Dist., a member of the Ways and Means Committee. “We’re not playing small ball: we are going big because nothing less will suffice.”

But Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, criticized the legislation.

“Our focus should be on crushing the virus and rebuilding our economy,” he said. “Unfortunately, the bill placed before us at this late hour don’t fit that effort.”

The $1,400 checks, combined with $600 approved in December, would provide the $2,000 payments promised by President Joe Biden. They will be part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package now making its way through the House and Senate under a procedure known as reconciliation that will prevent a filibuster and allow Democrats to pass the bill by majority vote without any Republican support.

To address concerns raised by lawmakers of both parties that the payments would go to wealthier taxpayers who did not need the money, the proposal would cut off all checks for individuals earning more than $100,000 and couples earning more than $200,000, including the money for dependents.

Individuals making between $75,000 and $100,000 and couples making between $150,000 and $200,000 would get partial payments, including for dependents.

Heads of households would get full payments if they earned $112,500, and partial payments until their income exceeded $150,000.

Biden rejected proposals to lower the payment to $1,000, and several Democratic lawmakers objected to reducing the thresholds below what they were under the two rounds of stimulus payments signed into law by President Donald Trump.

“We should give out less than the Republican administration? Ridiculous,” said Rep. Donald Norcross, D-1st Dist. “It’s worked fine so far. Let’s not change it. Let’s focus on trying to help people, not focus on how to make it cheaper.”

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It remains to be seen if the Senate will go along. If the bill is to pass without any Republican votes, it needs the support of all 50 Senate Democrats, and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has expressed concern about giving payments to wealthier individuals. Manchin and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, teamed up on a bipartisan amendment to the budget resolution designed to prevent the payments from going to “upper income” households.

Manchin told WV News last week that individuals making more than $50,000 and couples making more than $100,000 should not get payments.

But on Monday, he didn’t immediately object to the House Democratic plan, saying only that he wanted to ensure that recipients were “truly in need,” according to pool reports.

That includes plenty of households making a lot more than $50,000, especially in high-cost states like New Jersey.

“Dropping the threshold to $50,000 will result in reduced survival checks for millions of struggling Americans and is especially harmful to people in places like New Jersey which have a higher cost of living,” said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12th Dist.

“If it were up to me, we would send the checks to all Americans and recoup the money from wealthy individuals later,” she said. “What we need to do is to stop nickel and diming struggling Americans who are hurting right now.”

And Biden’s treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that “struggling middle-class families need help too.”

Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at jsalant@njadvancemedia.com.

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