Biden's COVID Relief Getting Smaller By The Day

When President Joe Biden was campaigning in Georgia in January, he promised that if voters put two Democrats in the Senate, “those $2,000 checks will go out the door.”

The doorway just got smaller.

Biden on Wednesday backed a plan that would reduce the income levels for the $1,400 checks he has proposed to a level lower than that used by the Trump administration in its relief checks.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimated the change will wipe out checks for 11.8 million adults and 4.6 million children, CNBC also reported.

The proposal still sends $1,400 to individuals who earn less than $75,000 a year. Biden has said that sending $1,400 now, added to the $600 checks sent under the Trump administration, fulfills the $2,000-check promise he made in Georgia.

But the House bill used $100,000 as the cutoff income level for individuals, with the amount going down as income rose. The new proposal Biden is backing and that will be considered in the Senate cuts off the checks for anyone earning $80,000 or more.

For couples filing jointly, the full checks in the new plan will still go to couples earning under $150,000 annually. But instead of the checks phasing out at the $200,000 income level, they end at $160,000.

Under Trump, payments for married couples ended at $174,000 for the December checks and at $198,000 in the March round of checks.

The size of the third round of checks has opened a major rift in the Democratic Party.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has been skeptical about a third round of checks and wants them targeted at the lowest earners, people who in his mind have the greatest need.

“Conservative Dems have fought so the Biden admin sends fewer & less generous relief checks than the Trump admin did. It’s a move that makes little-to-no political or economic sense, and targets an element of relief that is most tangibly felt by everyday people. An own-goal,” Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York tweeted Wednesday.

 “Further ‘targeting’ or ‘tightening’ eligibility means taking survival checks away from millions of families who got them last time,” tweeted Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “That’s bad policy and bad politics too.”

 The Senate faces a deadline as it debates the size of the checks, which are part of the same relief bill that would increase unemployment insurance payments. The authorization for the current unemployment payments runs out on March 14.

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