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Biden approves cutting the number of people eligible for a 3rd stimulus check

Business Insider logo Business Insider 3/3/2021 jzeballos@businessinsider.com (Joseph Zeballos-Roig)
Joe Biden with his mouth open: President Joe Biden. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images President Joe Biden. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • Biden signed off on tightening eligibility for a third stimulus check, Democratic aides said.
  • Lower caps for eligible incomes would prevent wealthier people from getting a payment.
  • Individuals earning above $80,000 would no longer qualify for a stimulus check.
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President Joe Biden has signed off on faster phaseouts for $1,400 stimulus checks, a step that would cut the number of people eligible for a direct payment under the $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan that the House passed on Saturday.

Two Democratic aides told Insider that the president had approved lowering the income thresholds for people to receive a check. They spoke on condition of anonymity to share congressional discussions.

The aides also said that federal unemployment benefits would remain at $400 per week through the end of August.

Moderate Senate Democrats have pushed to prevent wealthier people from getting another check from the federal government. The House approved a bill on Saturday with higher eligibility caps for individuals and couples, a similar setup as in earlier pandemic aid packages.

Under the House's plan, the $1,400 payments phased out at $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for couples. Here's the layout of the new plan for direct payments:

  • Individuals: People making $75,000 and under would receive the full check, but those earning $80,000 and above would no longer qualify.
  • Married couples: Joint filers earning $150,000 and below would get the full payment, but those earning $160,000 and above would no longer qualify.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire said on Tuesday that she favored designing a new pot of money for broadband and healthcare providers in the stimulus plan and suggested those initiatives could be financed partly by tightening stimulus-check eligibility.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some Senate Democrats were supportive of the move. "I think it's an appropriate way of bringing this to a successful conclusion," Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado told reporters on Wednesday.

Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, pushed to extend the $400 federal supplement to unemployment benefits through September to avoid setting up a cliff in the August recess.

"Adding $400 dollars per week to jobless benefits and covering gig workers and the self-employed is the boldest Congress has ever taken to support jobless Americans during an economic crisis," he said in a statement to Insider. "I pushed hard for keeping that sixth month of benefits and am going to fight like hell to extend them in August."

Senate Democrats are set to advance the relief measure on Wednesday, kicking off 20 hours of debate on the bill before an amendment process starting Thursday.

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