Biden ready to tighten control limits to pass COVID relief bill | News on the coronavirus pandemic

President Joe Biden has agreed to moderate Democrats’ demands to restrict eligibility for stimulus checks, but has rejected an attempt to cut additional unemployment benefits as he tries to win support for his bill $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief, according to a Democratic aide.

People earning more than $ 80,000 currently will not be eligible for direct payments, against a cap of $ 100,000 in the previously drafted law, the assistant said on condition of anonymity. The ceiling for couples will now be $ 160,000 from $ 200,000 previously. Checks start at $ 1,400 before they start to disappear.

Lawmakers are heading towards the final stages of enacting Biden’s first signature legislative package, with the Senate taking over the relief bill passed by the House last week. Changes to the measure could pave the way for adoption.

While Republicans have opposed the excessive price, the administration says the aid will give a vital lifeline to millions of Americans made unemployed by the pandemic.

Democratic senators, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, had called for tighter targeting to reduce funds transferred to those who do not need them. Their votes will be critical in passing the legislation given the Senate’s partisan 50-50 split and the GOP’s united opposition.

A separate push by the moderates to cut supplementary unemployment benefits to $ 300 per week from the $ 400 approved in the House will not be included in what is initially brought to the Senate, according to the Aid. The so-called Senate managers amendment to the House bill is expected to maintain the House figure, which is an increase of $ 100 per week from the current level until August.

The language endorsed by Biden gives the moderate and progressive wings of the Senate Democratic caucus an element they wanted in the final negotiations. The White House declined to comment.

The immediate reactions to the news among Democrats were largely positive.

“This is an appropriate way to do this,” said Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado.

Michigan’s Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow, a member of Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s leadership team, said the language Biden had agreed to could put Democrats on track to wipe out the package later this week.

“It’s a reasonable compromise,” Stabenow said. “We are in a good position to do this.”

Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, on the other hand, said: “I think the package as it was designed was ready to go.” She said, “I think people need the money.”

For stimulus checks, the phase-out of payments of $ 1,400 starts at $ 75,000 per person and $ 150,000 for couples, as outlined in the House bill, the aide said.

“I think we could get it back below $ 200,000 and continue to provide assistance to households that still need it,” Shaheen said earlier this week while advocating for changes to eligibility for the check. relaunch.

Biden met nine moderate Democrats in the White House earlier this week as he sought their support in enacting his first signing law.

The House’s version of the Aid Bill needs to be changed because some of its elements have been found to violate the rules of Congress; one of the tasks of senators is to remove the increase in the minimum wage and reduce the overall cost slightly.

Voting timeline

Senate Democrats will continue debate on the package after the Congressional non-partisan Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation affirm that the leaders’ amendment to the House bill qualifies for protections against a filibuster, said a Democratic Senate aide.

Democrats aim to resolve their outstanding differences before the amendment process, known as the vote-a-rama, begins as early as Thursday. Once that starts, the danger is that Republicans could reshape some of the provisions by removing a single Democrat.

Indeed, GOP Senator Rob Portman of Ohio said on Wednesday he was working on vote-a-rama amendments to further target the bill.

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who wanted $ 400 a month in additional unemployment payments extended by one month more than the House measure, until September 30, declined to comment on the new position of Biden.

Schumer has pledged to complete the package in time to pass it on to Biden before the current supplemental unemployment benefits expire on March 14.

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