April 13, 2021

Biden has approved cutting the number of people eligible for a third stimulus check

  • Biden has signed off on tightening eligibility for a third stimulus check, a Democratic aide says.
  • It would prevent wealthier people from getting a payment because the income thresholds are capped lower.
  • 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 third direct payment in the $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan that is awaiting passage into law.

Two Democratic aides confirmed to Insider that the president approved paring back the thresholds at the higher end of the income spectrum. 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.

It’s the result of a push from moderate Senate Democrats to prevent wealthier people from getting another check from the federal government. The House approved the bill on Saturday with higher eligibility caps for individuals and couples, a similar setup under earlier pandemic aid packages. 

Previously, the $1,400 payments phased out entirely at $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for couples. Here is the layout of the new plan on direct payments:

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

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire was among those moderate Democrats. She said on Tuesday she favored designing a new pot of money for broadband and healthcare providers in the stimulus plan. She 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 Thursday.

Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, made a strong push to extend $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 that will start sometime on Thursday.