Senate vote indicates more targeted stimulus checks for Biden
The Senate overwhelmingly approved a proposal led by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) barring “upper-income taxpayers” from eligibility for stimulus checks proposed by President Joe Biden, the latest sign that the next round of direct payments will be far more targeted than previous rounds.
“The question before us is quite simple. Do we want stimulus checks to go to households with family incomes of $300,000? Or do we want to target the assistance to struggling families who need the help and provide a boost for the economy?” asked Collins.
The answer is quite clearly the latter. The amendment passed during the Senate’s budget “vote-a-rama” on Thursday afternoon, 99-1. Just Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) opposed it.
“I don’t think a single person on this floor would disagree to target the relief to our neighbors who are struggling,” Manchin said. “There are other families who have not missed a single paycheck as a result of this pandemic. It does not make sense to send a check to those individuals.”
The effort showed that though the Senate Democratic majority may be moving forward with a coronavirus proposal that sidelines Senate Republicans, the bipartisan negotiating group led by Manchin and Collins isn’t done yet. The amendment was filed with 16 co-sponsors, roughly evenly divided between the two parties.
And though the amendment doesn’t explicitly spell out levels of eligibility for checks, it reflects ongoing talks over lowering the income threshold from previous rounds of payments.
Senators in both parties have been seeking to begin phasing out checks at $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for joint filers, and ending them entirely for individuals making $75,000 and $150,000 for couples (filers with children and dependents would likely receive more money under this plan). That’s a quicker phase-out than some previous proposals and reflects unease in both parties on families earning as much as $300,000 being eligible for stimulus checks.
The amendment was introduced by Manchin, Collins and Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Angus King (I-Maine), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah).