As the debate within the Democratic Party continues over who exactly should receive another stimulus payment, it appears the White House is backing away from plans to lower the income threshold for stimulus checks to $50,000.
In the previous two rounds of economic stimulus, those making up to $75,000 per year received full stimulus checks. As word got around that considerations were underway to drop the threshold for a full $1,400 stimulus check to only those making up to $50,000, a group of House Democrats sent a letter over the weekend to President Joe Biden asking him to recommit to providing full stimulus checks for those earning up to $75,000.
“We understand that the Administration is considering proposals from Republican senators to lower the income threshold for economic relief payments,” the group of Democrats wrote. “These lower income thresholds would leave behind struggling individuals and families in regions where the costs are very high. Although the median incomes of households in our districts are above average, so is the cost of living, including basic necessities like housing, transportation and food. Our economic relief efforts need to recognize this reality and maintain support for individuals and families struggling to make ends meet.”
On Sunday, during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen suggested a figure in between $50,000 and $75,000.
“(Biden) wouldn't want to see a household making over $300,000 receive these payments,” Yellen said. “But if you think about an elementary school teacher or a policeman making $60,000 a year, and faced with children who are out of school and people who may have had to withdraw from the labor force in order to take care of them and many extra burdens, I would -- he thinks, and I would certainly agree, that it's appropriate for people there to get support.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki reacted to Yellen’s comments, saying that someone making $60,000 annually would be left with some benefits. In two previous rounds of stimulus, a prorated check was given to those earning just over $75,000 a year.
“But whatever the threshold is, there will be a scale up,” Psaki said. “So his view is that a nurse, a teacher, or a firefighter who’s making $60,000, shouldn't be left without any support or relief either. It's just a question of, sort of, where the scale up looks like -- what it looks like in a final package. But it's still being negotiated at this point in time.”
Republicans, however, are feeling left out of the process.
“Even though we are still pushing out $900 billion in relief that congress passed less than two months ago, even though a group of Senate Republicans met with President Biden to discuss bipartisan avenues for hundreds of billions of dollars more, Washington Democrats have decided they want to go it alone,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday.
One person who hasn’t been left out of the process is Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate West Virginia Democrat whose support behind the stimulus plan is critical as Senate Democrats can ill afford to lose a single vote given that Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tiebreaker.
Manchin signaled last week that he is supportive of Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, but is hopeful that payments are “targeted.”
“I will vote to move forward with the budget process because we must address the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis. But let me be clear – and these are words I shared with President Biden – our focus must be targeted on the COVID-19 crisis and Americans who have been most impacted by this pandemic,” Manchin said in a statement. “The president remains hopeful that we can have bipartisan support moving forward. I will only support proposals that will get us through and end the pain of this pandemic.”
Justin Boggs is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk.Follow him on Twitter @jjboggs or on Facebook.