House Democrats call for faster phase out in next round of stimulus checks

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during her weekly press conference in the HVC Studio A Capitol Visitors Center at The Capitol in Washington D.C. on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.

Demetrius Freeman | The Washington Post | Getty Images

House Democrats on Monday proposed a faster phase out for the next round of direct payments, as the party tries to assuage concerns about coronavirus relief checks going to higher-income Americans.

As part of its portion of the $1.9 trillion rescue package, the House Ways and Means Committee said individuals who make up to $75,000 and couples filing jointly who earn up to $150,000 would get a full $1,400 direct payment. The sum would phase out more quickly than it would have under previously proposed legislation, and would get reduced to zero for individuals earning $100,000 and joint filers making up to $200,000.

The proposal may not be the final income structure for the payments as Democrats negotiate a bill they hope to pass without Republican support by early March.

Eligibility for the checks emerged as a key sticking point in the process. The party has to keep all of its members on board, as even under special budget rules it needs every Democratic vote for a simple majority in the 50-50 Senate.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., has called for payments better targeted to people who need them most. Democrats reportedly considered lowering the income cap for receiving a full payment to $50,000.

However, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has called it “absurd” to lower the threshold. He advocated for a faster phase out of the payments above the $75,000 level.

It is unclear whether the eligibility limits will win the support of both Manchin and Sanders.

Among the other proposals outlined by the Ways and Means Committee on Monday, the bill calls for a $400 per week unemployment benefit supplement through Aug. 29. The Biden administration previously called for the proposal to last through September.

It also proposes a plan to send up to $3,600 per child to families.

Democrats passed a budget resolution last week setting up the reconciliation process. After House and Senate committees of jurisdiction clear their separate bills, the Budget committees will combine them into one mammoth piece of legislation.

The chambers would go to a conference committee to resolve any differences.

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