Senators push back on over-generous stimulus checks in Covid relief bill

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Louise Hall
·2 min read
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<p> A group led by Republican Sen Susan Collins and Democratic Sen Joe Manchin have said the plan provides too much money to high-income Americans</p> (REUTERS)

A group led by Republican Sen Susan Collins and Democratic Sen Joe Manchin have said the plan provides too much money to high-income Americans

(REUTERS)

A bipartisan group of senators, including a number of Democrats, have pushed back on president Joe Biden’s $1.9trn coronavirus relief bill, citing disagreement over stimulus checks.

According to a report by POLITICO, a group led by Republican Sen Susan Collins and Democratic Sen Joe Manchin, have said the plan provides too much money to high-income Americans.

The group of 16 Senators reportedly raised concerns over the bill on a 75-minute call with White House officials on Sunday in a “civil” discussion over the terms of the new plan, which seeks to boost the government’s pandemic response.

Democratic Rep Josh Gottheimer and Republican Rep Tom Reed, co-chairs of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, also reportedly joined the call.

The huge financial package includes $400bn to directly combat coronavirus, accelerate vaccinations, and reopen closed schools within 100 days of its passing.

Sen Collins of Maine reportedly raised issue with the proposed $1,400 checks for most Americans, saying that they should be targeted towards low-income families.

According to the outlet, the senator specifically questioned why families making $300,000 could be eligible for payments.

“I was the first to raise that issue, but there seemed to be a lot of agreement … that those payments need to be more targeted,” Sen Collins told POLITICO.

“I would say that it was not clear to me how the administration came up with its $1.9trn figure for the package.”

Six-figure earners may be able to qualify for the stimulus checks but would be unlikely to receive the full amount as allocation of the payments decreases as income increases.

“I'm going to suggest that we get together and talk about what we think would be a reasonable package, and one that could garner bipartisan support,” Sen Collins told the outlet.

“The administration clearly is very eager to move very quickly. And we want to make sure that there is justification, especially since there's so much money remaining from the previous packages.”

According to reports, the group came to a “consensus” on the need for urgent action on vaccine distribution and that it should be a priority over provisions like the $15 minimum wage.

The coronavirus vaccine rollout in the US has been slower than officials initially projected, but Mr Biden has vowed to move “heaven and earth” to administer 100 million vaccines in 100 days.

Discussion with lawmakers over the bill comes as part of a wave of executive orders and immediate actions passed by Mr Biden during his short time as president.

The White House hit the ground running with at least 17 executive orders and a range of new domestic and international policies on issues such as climate change, coronavirus, and immigration.

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