Biden bowing to pressure, says he is willing to negotiate $1,400 COVID-19 stimulus checks
President Biden said he is open to negotiating the conditions on his proposed $1,400 COVID-19 stimulus checks after Republicans and some Democrats said they should be more targeted to families on lower incomes.
Details of a potential package his team must negotiate with both parties on Capitol Hill are a “moving target,” the Democratic president and Senate veteran said when he answered questions about his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan on Monday.
He also suggested the administration may be able to increase his target of 100 million people vaccinated in his first 100 days in office by 50%, to 150 million.
His remarks came after he signed an executive order designed to increase government purchases from American manufacturers. It was part of an early blitz designed to show he is moving fast to help salve a battered economy.
Relief was a matter of urgency, he said, although he dismissed the idea of picking apart his bill to secure faster passage.
“Time is of the essence,” he said. “I am reluctant to cherry-pick and take out one or two items here.”
However, he added that he was open to discussing whether the $1,400 checks were being properly targeted to those who needed them most.
“There’s legitimate reasons people say, ‘Do you have the lines drawn the exact right way, should it go to anybody making over X number of dollars or what?’ I’m open to negotiate those things.”
Republicans had accused him of using the payments to fill gaps in other targeted aid programs. Some Democrats also expressed reservations.
For example, Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said he may oppose the payments.
“If the next round of stimulus checks goes out, they should be targeted to those who need it,” he said.
Previous rounds were generally limited to individuals earning less than $75,000 a year and married couples earning less than $150,000.
Earlier, the White House upped pressure on lawmakers to speed the bill through Congress by warning that the country would go off an “unemployment insurance cliff” in March if funding was not secured.