Biden blocks $1,400 stimulus checks for 16M Americans after tightening income eligibility

More than 16 million Americans will no longer qualify for a third stimulus check under stricter eligibility parameters endorsed this week by President Biden.

That's according to a preliminary analysis published by the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which found that a plan by moderate Democrats to curtail benefits for higher-income earners will cut off cash payments for roughly 11.8 million adults and 4.6 million children.

Under the latest proposal, Americans earning $75,000 or less would still receive the fully promised $1,400 payment. But the checks would phase out faster for individuals at higher income levels than in the version passed Saturday by House Democrats, with individuals making $80,000 a year or more and couples making $160,000 a year, or higher, no longer qualifying for the money.

The House version of the bill would also send the $1,400 payments to individuals earning $75,000 or below each year, but the money would phase out slower, with the eligibility cut-off at $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 per year for couples.

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That means individuals earning between $80,000 and $100,000, and couples earning between $160,000 and $200,000, are newly excluded from a partial check under the newest plan, which has been backed by the Biden administration.

Although the House bill would benefit more adults — about 91%, compared to the Senate's 86% — both versions would benefit 100% of adults and children who are among the bottom 60% of income-earners in the U.S., according to the analysis.

Stimulus check eligibility 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 via simple majority with a procedural tool known as budget reconciliation.

Progressives slammed the decision to tighten eligibility, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez arguing that conservative Democrats have fought so that the Biden administration sends "fewer and less generous relief checks than the Trump admin did."

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"It’s a move that makes little-to-no political or economic sense, and targets an element of relief that is most tangibly felt by everyday people. An own-goal," Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said Wednesday, adding: "We have a responsibility to show people in this country what a Democratic majority can do for working people. That means more generous relief checks."

With the Senate prepared to pass its own version of the bill as soon as this week, the House will either have to vote on that measure, or the two chambers will need to meet to draft a final bill.

Lawmakers are racing to send the legislation to Biden's desk before March 14, when more than 11 million Americans will lose their jobless aid when two key federal jobless aid programs created a year ago under the CARES Act — and extended in the $900 billion relief package that Congress passed in December — lapse.

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