Washington — President Biden and moderate Senate Democrats have struck a deal to limit eligibility for directto Americans, lowering the income level for those who would qualify for payments, according to a Democratic source.
The Senate isMr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill as early as Wednesday. Since the bill is not expected to attract any Republican votes, all Democrats will need to support the bill in order for it to pass, giving moderate Democrats leverage to make demands of the president and Senate leadership.
Under the agreement, the $1,400 direct payments to taxpayers will begin to phase out at $75,000 for individuals, with no one making more than $80,000 eligible for payments. For couples who file jointly, the phase-out will begin for those making $150,000 and end at $160,000.
The shift decreases the number of Americans who would have been eligible for payments under the version of the bill passed by the House on Saturday. The House bill also phased out payments for individuals making more than $75,000 and couples making more than $150,000, but payments were capped at incomes of $100,000 and $200,000, respectively.
The Senate bill also includes $400 per week in supplemental unemployment insurance benefits, which are set to expire on March 14. Those benefits would extend until mid-August. Senator Joe Manchin, who has quickly become one of the most influential lawmakers in the Senate, had suggested that the benefits be lowered to $300 per week.
The deal comes after Mr. Biden talked to Senate Democrats on Tuesday and stressed the urgency to pass the COVID relief package. Mr. Biden also met with moderate Senate Democrats at the White House on Monday to discuss the legislation. Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana, who attended the Monday meeting, told reporters that the discussion was about “targeting the dollars” in the relief package but not reducing it.
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