Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., is working to keep both moderates and progressives in his caucus with the $ 1.9 trillion Coronavirus Relief Act and pass it this week. Jacquelyn Martin / AP hide caption
Jacquelyn Martin / AP
Jacquelyn Martin / AP
Senate Democrats have reached an agreement with the White House to tighten the limits for those who can receive the next round of stimulus checks as part of President Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package.
The change comes following calls from moderate Democrats to ensure the final round of control is targeted at lower-income families. The full amount of the checks remains unchanged at $ 1,400, but the amount would run out quickly for higher earners.
The Senate plan continues to allow individuals earning up to $ 75,000 per year and couples earning up to $ 150,000 per year to receive the full benefit. However, payments would expire faster and end in full for individuals earning $ 80,000 or more and couples earning $ 160,000 or more. The limits on the home bill were much higher: individuals who made up to $ 100,000 and couples who made up to $ 200,000 still got some benefit.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at the White House that Biden was pleased with the progress made on the bill and had always known that there would be proposals and negotiations as the bill was finalized.
“He was open from the start that this is more targeted and that there is a steeper cliff where this ramp ends,” said Psaki. “He is satisfied with the state of the negotiations. Of course there will be ongoing discussions.”
Some Liberal House Democrats, especially those representing larger cities with higher cost of living, have argued in the past that lower exit options for controls discriminate against single parents in those areas. So far, nobody has explicitly weighed the bill.
There is also a concern that payments will be based on 2019 income unless taxpayers have already filed their 2020 taxes and accepted them by the IRS. This means that people who lost their job or income in 2020 but have not yet filed taxes may miss the full value of the payment for weeks or possibly until next year’s tax time.
Senate Democrats and the White House also agreed to maintain a provision that would increase federal unemployment benefits to $ 400 a week by the end of August.
Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Hopes Republicans would vote unanimously against the bill, which means the bill must be unanimously supported by Senate Democrats to pass.
“Just a few days ago, President Biden’s chief of staff boasted that this smorgasbord of borrowed money would lead to ‘the most advanced domestic law in a generation,'” said McConnell in the Senate. “The Democrats had a choice. They chose to go alone, go left, and keep families’ top priorities on the cutting room floor.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, has defended the legislation as a sweeping effort to address all areas of the troubled economy, from personal finances and troubled state and local budgets to small business needs and vaccine funding. He rejected criticism that the economy had improved from the worst periods of last year.
“We cannot get through the situation of 2009, in which the incentive was not strong enough and we stayed in a recession for years,” said Schumer. “Just because the numbers aren’t as bad as they were, doesn’t mean we don’t need persistent heavy pressure to get out of this ditch and move up and forward.”
The Senate could begin examining coronavirus legislation as early as today pending a final assessment by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Tax Committee.
Under the Senate budget rules, there will be up to 20 hours of debate on the legislation after the Senate proceeds with the bill. After those 20 hours have passed, the Senate will begin another series of unlimited changes.
The change process has no set end. Senators can table as many amendments as they like. Some Republicans have suggested proposing many, many amendments as a form of protest against partisan legislation. In many cases, this should be a political point to put vulnerable senators in a difficult situation for re-election in 2022.
Changes can be accepted with a simple majority. However, this does not mean that all changes that are accepted will be reflected in the final invoice. The Senate Majority Leader can, and likely will, propose one final amendment that includes the provisions with the unanimous support of the Democrats, excluding anything controversial.
The timing of a final vote is unclear and depends on the change process. If the bill is passed, the House will have to vote again on the final bill before it can be incorporated into the bill.