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Stimulus checks: White House agrees to tighten eligibility rules for $1,400 direct payments: sources

Yahoo Finance’s Akiko Fujita, Zack Guzman, and Jessica Smith discuss what to expect from the Senate today.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: But first, to Washington this hour, where Senate lawmakers are debating President Biden's $1.9 trillion economic relief bill. Let's bring in Jessica Smith for the very latest on some developments there. And Jess, Democrats really trying to race to get this one done by March 14, when we'll see some of those federal unemployment benefits expire.

JESSICA SMITH: Exactly. They are racing against the clock here to get this done. And in just the past hour or so, we learned a little bit more about what the Senate version of this bill is going to look like. According to two Democratic sources, President Biden has agreed to lower the income levels for people who are eligible for stimulus checks.

So now, in this new package, individuals making more than $80,000 will not qualify for the $1,400 direct payments. That's compared to $100,000 in the House bill. Heads of households will be out of the eligibility range if they make more than $120,000. The cap for joint filers is $160,000. That's lower than the House bill, which was at $200,000.

So that is a difference there that you're probably going to see upset some progressive lawmakers, but it's something that Democrats, moderate Democrats, have been pushing for in the Senate. Senator Joe Manchin is one who has been pushing to further target the stimulus checks. So now leadership is trying to keep those moderate Democrats happy so they can get every single Democratic vote.

They need everybody on board if they're going to pass this legislation. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell talked about this yesterday. Let's watch.

CHUCK SCHUMER: The American people, including Republicans, show very strong support for this bill. And they know-- and the reason is simple. We have to crush the virus. We have to get our economy back on track. We have to get Americans back to work.

MITCH MCCONNELL: So we'll be fighting this in every way that we can. It is my hope that at the end, the Senate Republicans will unanimously oppose it, just like House Republicans did. And I think it's noteworthy that over in the House, the only thing bipartisan about the proposal was the opposition to it.

JESSICA SMITH: Another development just in the past hour or so is the enhanced unemployment benefit, what that is going to look like. A Democratic source tells me that it will be $400 a week through the end of August. Moderates have been pushing to bring that number down to 300, while progressives would have liked to see the unemployment benefits go through the end of September. So what they've landed on is keeping it the same as what it was in the House bill-- $400 a week through the end of August.

Now whatever the Senate changes to the bill, the House is going to have to take it up again. And I think you are going to see some progressive Democrats who are upset about these changes that fewer people will be getting stimulus checks. We did talk to Congresswoman Jayapal yesterday on the shows, and she said it would be a real problem if the Senate undermines the bill. So we'll be looking for more reaction to these changes in the coming days. Zack and Akiko.