Stimulus Check Eligibility Cut Gains Momentum—Against Public's Wishes

The prospect of stimulus check criteria being tweaked to reduce the number of recipients appears to be gaining moment despite polling indicating opposition to this among Americans.

President Joe Biden's COVID-19 relief proposals outline another round of $1,400 direct payments, which would top up the $600 signed off last year to $2,000 for those eligible.

However, Republicans have questioned the cost of his pitch and a group of 10 GOP senators has suggested a framework for a slimmed down plan—which suggests cutting the amount handed out in stimulus checks and tightening the eligibility requirements.

While Biden has said he does not want to knock the payments down from $1,400, he is reportedly open to the prospect of the parameters for who receives them being tweaked.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who has previously called for support to be more targeted, has backed such a course of action ad being an option.

Polling from YouGov earlier this week showed that most people want Biden to prioritize the eligibility requirements staying the same over securing a bipartisan agreement.

Asked on Tuesday, 53 percent of 7,626 respondents said they backed maintaining the prior qualifications for checks over the bill being passed in a bipartisan manner.

Split down by political affiliation, the criteria stayed the priority—with 63 percent of Democrats and 36 percent of Republicans backing this being the focus, compared to 18 percent and 32 percent who favored a push for a bipartisan bill.

Other polling has also indicated public support for the checks at the $1,400 amount or support for $2,000 checks.

A Quinnipiac University poll found 78 percent of 1,075 adults asked January 28 to February 1 backed $1,400 payments. Split down by party affiliation, 90 percent of Democrats asked supported this along with 64 percent of Republicans.

Separate Yahoo! News/YouGov polling from January found most Americans support the idea of $2,000 stimulus checks, including the majority of Republicans.

The Republican Senators' framework would include cutting down the amount given in stimulus payments from $1,400 to $1,000. And it also suggests cutting it so that the threshold to receive the top amount is for individuals earning $50,000 per year or less. The threshold for prior payments has been those earning $75,000 annually or below get the full amount.

Biden has already received criticism over stimulus checks, with people questioning the amount in his plans being $1,400 as opposed to an outright $2,000. The $1,400 adds to the previous $600 amount to make $2,000, but some have questioned this in regard to the promise of $2,000 made by Biden on the campaign trail.

While Biden has expressed a desire for a bipartisan deal, other Democrats have voiced openness to pushing his plans through with or without Republican support—lining up the option of reconciliation being used.

Newsweek has contacted the White House and Manchin's office for comment.

joe manchin answers questions from reporters
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) answers questions from reporters as he makes his way to the subway at the US Capitol on February 2, 2021 in Washington, D.C. He has spoken of the potential for changes to the stimulus check eligibility criteria. Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images