President Biden on Tuesday said he supported a proposal from House Democrats that would send $1,400 stimulus checks to Americans earning up to $75,000 annually, rejecting a push from the party's centrist wing to dramatically curtail eligibility.
Asked whether he supported the stimulus check parameters put forward by the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday, Biden said "yes," according to a pool report.
Under the draft legislation put forward by House Democrats on Monday, individual Americans earning $75,000 or less (and couples earning $150,000 or less) would receive the fully promised $1,400 payment. But the checks would phase out faster than previous rounds, cutting off individuals who earn more than $100,000 and couples earning more than $200,000.
Biden's comments came after an Oval Office meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Vice President Kamala Harris and some of the nation's top CEOs, including JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon, Walmart's Doug McMillon, Gap's Sonia Syngal, Lowe's Marvin Ellison and Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue, during which they discussed the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, infrastructure and the push for a $15 an hour minimum wage.
"The American people are hurt," Biden told reporters. "A lot of people are in trouble. A lot of people are going to bed at night, wondering if they're going to keep mortgage payments up, have health insurance. We have millions of people on unemployment."
Congressional Democrats are plowing ahead with passing the massive $2 trillion spending measure using a procedural tool known as budget reconciliation, which will allow them to approve the bill without any Republican buy-ins.
But over the past week, stimulus check eligibility has emerged as a major point of contention between different ideological factions of the Democratic Party. The party can't afford to lose the support of even a single Senate Democrat, as it needs all 50 members to pass the measure using a procedural tool known as budget reconciliation.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has repeatedly argued the payments need to be better targeted and reportedly called for the checks to begin phasing out for individuals earning more than $50,000.
"I don't think a single person on this floor would disagree to target the relief to our neighbors who are struggling," Manchin said on the Senate floor last week. "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."
Still, he indicated on Monday that he was open to House Democrats' plan, saying that he and other centrists are trying to ensure the payments go to those "truly in need."
The House Ways and Means Committee is set to debate its part of the massive reconciliation bill on Wednesday and go through Friday. Lawmakers are hoping to pass the stimulus checks, part of a broader $1.9 trillion relief package, no later than March 14, when supplemental unemployment benefits are poised to run out for millions of Americans.
“While it is still our hope that Republicans will join us in doing right by the American people, the urgency of the moment demands that we act without further delay," Rep. Richard Neal, chair of the Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement.