Manchin, Collins push effort to bar payments to high-income earners

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The Senate Democratic majority may be moving forward with a coronavirus approach that sidelines Senate Republicans. But the bipartisan negotiating group isn’t done yet.

Sixteen of the senators pushing for a bipartisan solution are filing an amendment to the Senate’s budget resolution that reflects their efforts to target President Joe Biden’s next round of direct payments to lower income workers. The amendment would explicitly bar "upper-income taxpayers" from eligibility for $1,400 stimulus checks proposed by Biden.

The amendment is led by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who are leading efforts to produce a coronavirus bill that could receive 60 votes, even as Biden and Democratic leaders plunge forward with an effort that could pass with just 50 votes. And though the amendment doesn’t explicitly spell out levels of eligibility for checks, it reflects ongoing talks over lowering the income threshold from previous rounds of payments.

Senators in both parties have been seeking to begin phasing out checks at $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for joint filers, and ending them entirely for individuals making $75,000 and $150,000 for couples (filers with children and dependents would likely receive more money under this plan). That’s a quicker phase-out than some previous proposals and reflects unease in both parties on families earning as much as $300,000 being eligible for stimulus checks.

The amendment is supported by Manchin, Collins and Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Angus King (I-Maine), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah). More senators could join.

The Senate will begin its budget amendment "vote-a-rama" on Thursday afternoon.

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