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Congressman: Stimulus checks will still go to the 'bulk' of people who need them

Jessica Smith
·Chief Political Correspondent
·2 min read

The Senate is making some changes to the $1.9 trillion relief bill passed by the House — including narrowing the eligibility for $1,400 stimulus checks — but Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D., Ill.) says Congress has "no choice" but to pass the bill before mid-March when millions of people are set to lose enhanced unemployment benefits.

"We have to meet that deadline," said Krishnamoorthi in an interview with Yahoo Finance Live. "We need to get them this aid and we need to get America healthy, as well as economically healthy."

The House already passed the relief package, which included the $15 minimum wage hike and made more people eligible for the stimulus checks, but will have to vote on the bill again after the Senate makes changes to it.

In an effort to satisfy moderates, Democratic leaders and the Biden administration agreed to phase out the stimulus checks at a faster pace. An individual who makes more than $80,000 per year will no longer qualify for a direct payment. The cap was $100,000 in the House bill.

Krishnamoorthi told Yahoo Finance he doesn't think the changes the will cause many House Democrats to vote against the bill when it comes back to the House for final approval.

"At the end of the day, the stimulus checks are going to go to the bulk of the people who really need them," he said. "They're going to spend that money and they're going to get that money into the hands of more people and multiply the effect of those stimulus checks to really boost the economy and help our struggling businesses."

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The White House and other Democrats have said their top priority was making sure individuals making less than $75,000 a year and couples making less than $150,000 receive the full $1,400. Some lawmakers had pushed to start phasing the checks out at lower levels.

The Senate bill keeps the enhanced unemployment benefits the same — a $400 per week boost through the end of August. Moderates wanted to lower the enhanced benefit to $300 and progressives wanted to extend the payments another month.

President Biden urged House Democrats to stay united and pass the bill in a virtual meeting on Wednesday.

"I know we're all making some small compromises," said Biden. "I know parts of this — and everything else we seek to do — are not easy, but people are going to remember how we showed up in this moment."

Jessica Smith is chief political correspondent for Yahoo Finance, based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.

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