Nearly 160 million U.S. households to get virus stimulus checks: White House

Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough hold a briefing at the White House in Washington
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A total of 158.5 million households would receive direct payments under the Senate version of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, the White House said on Thursday.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that the figure, crunched by the National Economic Council, means that 98% of the households that received payments in December would get checks under the stimulus.

The stimulus package passed the Democratic-led House of Representatives and is soon to be debated in the Senate, with Republicans opposed.

With no votes to spare, Democrats are tweaking the bill to ensure that all 50 of their members support it, including by raising the salary threshold for qualifying households.

President Joe Biden wants to sign legislation as soon as possible to provide relief to millions of people suffering economic dislocation from the pandemic, Psaki said.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland; Editing by Heather Timmons, Alexandra Hudson)