President Biden has agreed to lower the income cap for stimulus checks as part of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, The Post has confirmed.
The new limits sharply curtail eligibility for the checks and mean that people who earn more than $80,000 per year won’t be eligible for the direct payments of up to $1,400.
A Democratic source said Biden signed off on a push from more moderate party members, who are influential in the evenly split Senate, to phase out the relief.
Adults who earn less than $75,000 per year will still get the full $1,400.
But rather than a sliding scale for earners between $75,000 and $100,000, smaller checks will only go to people earning up to $80,000.
People who earn more than $80,000 will get nothing under the Biden-approved plan, the source said.
For joint filers, the phase-out begins at $150,000 and ends at $160,000. A “head of household” category for parents begins a phase-out at $112,500 and ends at $120,000.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki downplayed the changes at a Wednesday press briefing, saying that Biden’s priority all along was ensuring that people earning less than $75,000 got the full amount.
“He has also been open from the beginning for that being more targeted, and for there to be a steeper — steeper cliff at which that ramp down ends,” Psaki said.
Joe Biden seen speaking at a press conference on March, 2, 2021.Doug Mills / Pool via CNP / MediaPunch
Psaki said, “He is comfortable with where the negotiations stand.”
Democrats gave the change mixed reviews ahead of what’s expected to be a marathon series of amendment votes.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) said, “I think it’s an appropriate way of bringing this to a successful conclusion.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said, “Shortening the phase out, I think that’s a reasonable compromise.”
But Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said she was skeptical. “I think the package as it was originally crafted is good to go,” she said.
The House passed the bill last week and will have to ratify the changes. Other changes were forced by the Senate parliamentarian, who ruled the upper chamber could not include a $15 federal minimum wage, $140 million for a California rail project or $1.5 million for the Seaway International Bridge between Massena, New York, and Canada. Those items were included in the House version.
House Democrats largely expressed support for the new $80,000 salary cap for stimulus checks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters, “We’re interested in seeing the total package when it comes out. But so far, so good.”
The new stimulus check limits mean people who make $80,000 per year won’t be eligible for a share of the checks up to $1,400.Christopher Sadowski for NY Post
House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said, “I’m fine with it. I thought going up to $200,000 [for joint filers] was bad optics.”
The Senate is expected to pass the relief package this week over Republican objections that it is wasteful and poorly targeted to the pandemic.
A $400 weekly unemployment insurance supplement is expected to remain unchanged in the bill and last through August.
For parents, the bill also authorizes a $3,600 annual tax credit per child under age 6 and $3,000 per child up to age 17. Those funds also are phased out for earners over $75,000 or joint filers above $150,000. A family of four earning less than $150,000 could bank more than $14,000 from the bill, according to an analysis from CNBC.