April 13, 2021

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Third stimulus check update: Some of you are no longer going to get money under new plan for $1,400 payments. – NJ.com

4 min read

President Joe Biden “is comfortable” with demands by some Senate Democrats to cut the thresholds for receiving direct payments under the $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, his spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Under the proposal that could reach the Senate floor as early as Thursday, individuals earning up to $75,000 and couples earning up to $150,000 still would get a full $1,400 per person payment. But unlike the House-passed bill, the amounts would quickly phase out to where individuals making more than $80,000 and couples making more than $160,000 would not get any money.

The first two rounds of stimulus checks phased out at $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for couples, meaning that many households who received two rounds of financial help would not get a third.

Biden was fine with the lower thresholds, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during her daily press briefing Wednesday.

“He is comfortable with where the negotiations stand,” Psaki said. “Of course, there are going to be ongoing discussions. We don’t have a final bill, as you know. There will be ongoing discussions. He is comfortable and knows there will be tweaks at the margin.”

But the numbers weren’t final yet as negotiations continued, scuttling plans to try to bring the legislation to the floor on Wednesday. The bill then would go back to the House with eye toward getting it to Biden by March 14, when the current extension of unemployment insurance ends.

“I am confident that the Senate will ultimately reach a compromise that delivers direct stimulus checks to most hardworking New Jerseyans and billions more in aid our state and residents desperately need to get people vaccinated, keep essential workers on the job, safely reopen schools, provide assistance to the unemployed and hungry, support our struggling restaurants and small businesses, and protect renters and homeowners from eviction and foreclosure,” said Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez.

While progressives may have lost on the higher thresholds, they apparently did win on unemployment insurance, where Senate Democrats planned to keep the additional payments at $400 a week, rejecting calls to reduce them to the current level of $300.

“We have to pay attention to the entire package,” said Rep. Donald Norcross, D-1st Dist., a vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “I’m going to reserve judgment until the final draft. Im going to bite my tongue for a little bit and see what they come up with.”

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While Republicans remain unified against the legislation, a Monmouth University Poll released Wednesday said the stimulus remained popular with the public.

The bill was supported by 62% of Americans. including one-third of self-identified Republicans, with 34% in opposition. And the $400 unemployment insurance benefits were backed by 67%-30%.

The poll of 802 adults was conducted Feb. 25-March 1 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he wanted to have Republican support.

“We had always hoped that this very important work would be bipartisan,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor. “Regrettably, it seems that too many of our Republican colleagues are resorting to the same, predictable objections they raise about nearly every proposal supported by a Democrat. It almost doesn’t matter what’s in the bill, everything my colleagues oppose is ‘a liberal wish list.’”

But Rep. Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, said there has been no effort to reach across the aisle.

“There has not been a moment of discussion with Republicans,” said Brady, R-Texas, who used the same procedures in 2017 to cut taxes and to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no Democratic support. “I challenge anyone to claim with a straight face that this has bipartisan input or consensus at all.”

The legislation includes a massive expansion of the child tax credit and earned income tax credit for lower-income Americans. That would benefit 1.6 million children in New Jersey under age 18 and 354,000 workers without children, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive research group.

“I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the sweeping potential impact,” Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker said on a conference call to highlight the proposals. “When these two changes are passed, it really will be one of the most transformative economic policies ever to come out of Washington, D.C., in decades. This will be the greatest cut in child poverty in American history.”

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

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