Biden Backs Tighter Limits on Checks to Speed Relief Bill

President Joe Biden has agreed to moderate Democrats’ demands to narrow eligibility for stimulus checks, but rejected a push to trim extra unemployment benefits, as he tries to win support for his $1.9 trillion pandemic-relief bill, according to a Democratic aide. Individuals earning over $80,000 now won’t qualify for the direct payments, compared with a $100,000 cap in the previously drafted legislation, the aide said on condition of anonymity. The ceiling for couples will now be $160,000 against $200,000 before. Checks start at $1,400 before they begin phasing out. Lawmakers are heading toward the final phase of enacting Biden’s first signature legislative package, with the Senate taking up the relief bill the House passed last week. The changes in the measure could clear the way for passage. While Republicans have opposed the price tag as excessive, the administration says the aid will give a vital lifeline to millions of Americans put out of work by the pandemic. Democratic Senators, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, had advocated tighter targeting to reduce funds being transferred to those who don’t need it. Their votes will be critical in passing the legislation given the Senate’s 50-50 partisan split and the united GOP opposition. A separate push by moderates to trim supplemental unemployment benefits to $300-a-week from the $400 approved in the House won’t be included in what is initially brought to the Senate floor, according to the aide. The Senate’s so-called managers’ amendment to the House bill is expected to keep the House’s figure, which is a $100-a-week increase from the current level through August.