White House suggests it could approve stimulus payments with stricter targets

The Biden administration may be open to adjusting eligibility levels for pandemic stimulus payments to ensure the money is provided to the families who need it most, said President Joe Biden’s top economic adviser.

“Regarding checks, we presented a proposal that… was approved by the House with 275 votes; 44 Republicans voted in favor, « said Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, in a televised interview Tuesday morning. He was referencing a bill passed in the House in December that included direct payments of $ 2,000, which was supported by former President Donald Trump.

« Certainly if there are ways to make that provision, and other provisions, more effective, that is something that we are open to, that we will have discussions about, » added Deese.

On Monday, Biden acknowledged that his $ 1.9 trillion package, including payments of $ 1,400, might not pass in Congress as several Republicans and some Democrats in the Senate have refused the price. A bipartisan group of lawmakers hopes to lower the cost of the package by reducing eligibility for stimulus payments.

Deese and other White House officials said the administration held a call with several Democrats and Republicans to discuss changes to the plan on Sunday.

“It was a good call, it was a constructive conversation. And this is part of the process, ”Deese said during Tuesday’s interview. « The president presented a plan, we are now engaging members of Congress from both parties to consult them. »

Biden suggested Monday that the terms of the $ 1,400 stimulus checks may change.

« For example, you know I proposed that we, because I was bipartisan, I thought it would increase the chances of approval, the additional $ 1,400 in direct cash payment to the people, » Biden said during a press conference. « Well, there is a legitimate reason for people to say, ‘Do you have the lines drawn exactly the right way? Should I go to anyone who earns more than X dollars or why? I am open to negotiate those things.

But Biden acknowledged that the terms are a « moving target » at this point.

The move drew criticism from some left-wing members of Congress, including Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.).

People earning up to $ 75,000, or $ 150,000 for married couples, were eligible for direct payments of $ 600 sent in the past few weeks. Households were also eligible for an additional $ 600 for each qualifying child.

After that threshold, payments begin to be removed at a rate of $ 5 for every $ 100 of additional income. Those who made more than $ 87,000 or $ 174,000 for a couple were not eligible.