WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — With the full House expected to advance the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Friday, many are wondering whether they’ll qualify for the promised $1,400 stimulus checks included in the proposal.
The short answer as of now: If you got a check in the last round, you’ll get one this time as well.
While that could change as the measure makes its way through the Senate, the current plan keeps income thresholds at the same mark as that last $600 payment.
If you need a refresher, anyone who made $75,000 or less will get the full amount — and couples earning $150,000 or less will get $2,800 in relief payments. As your income level increases above those thresholds, the amount you will receive decreases. The current plan calls for a phase-out of direct payments for single people earning $100,000 and couples earning $200,000.
Republican leaders and even some Democratic lawmakers have called for and proposed lower thresholds to ensure the direct payments are targeted to Americans who need them the most. However, President Joe Biden has pushed back at that.
In addition to those $1,400 payments, the proposal includes an increase to child tax credits and offers extra $400 weekly federal unemployment benefits through August. It would provide hundreds of billions of dollars for state and local governments, shuttered schools, COVID-19 vaccines and testing, and struggling airlines and other businesses.
One thing the House measure will include but Senate likely will not: $15 minimum wage.
The Biden proposal seems highly likely to die in the Senate after that chamber’s parliamentarian said Thursday that the cherished progressive goal must be dropped from the relief legislation, Senate Democratic aides said.
The finding by Elizabeth MacDonough, the chamber’s nonpartisan arbiter of its rules, means Democrats face an overwhelmingly uphill battle to boost the minimum wage this year in the face of solid Republican opposition.
Biden, a supporter of the $15 increase, was “disappointed” in the outcome but respected the parliamentarian’s ruling, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. The Senate has a long tradition of heeding the parliamentarian’s decisions with few exceptions, a history that is revered by traditionalists like Biden, a 36-year Senate veteran.
“He will work with leaders in Congress to determine the best path forward because no one in this country should work full time and live in poverty,” Psaki said.
Democrats are pushing the massive coronavirus relief measure through Congress under special rules that will let them avoid a Senate filibuster by Republicans, a tactic that Democrats would need an unattainable 60 votes to defeat.
But those same Senate rules prohibit provisions with only an “incidental” impact on the federal budget because they are chiefly driven by other policy purposes. MacDonough said the minimum wage provision didn’t pass that test.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the minimum wage plan would remain in that chamber’s legislation anyway, saying, “House Democrats believe that the minimum wage hike is necessary.”
She probably had little choice — many House Democrats are progressives who are insistent that the party fight for the wage boost. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., a leading sponsor of the minimum wage increase, said Democrats shouldn’t be bowed by “the advisory opinion of the parliamentarian and Republican obstructionism.”
Democrats can afford little dissension over the minimum wage or anything else in the COVID-19 relief bill. They have just a 10-vote edge in the House and no votes to spare in the 50-50 Senate.
Despite their paper-thin congressional majorities, Democratic leaders were hoping that House approval of the package would be followed by passage in the Senate, where changes seem likely. Democrats are aiming to get the legislation to Biden’s desk by mid-March.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.