Stimulus Check: Eligibility for $1,400 Payments Likely to Change

The third stimulus check may have different eligibility rules than the first two, more and more political analysts are saying. President Joe Biden has now promised several times that he will not back down on the size of the checks themselves — $1,400 — in his negotiations with Republicans. That leaves eligibility rules as his easiest compromise to make.

According to a report by Yahoo News, Biden spoke at a press conference on Friday, saying: "I'm not cutting the size of the checks. They're going to be $1,400 — period. That's what the American people were promised." Meanwhile, in an interview with CNN's State of the Union, Biden's Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, indicated that eligibility rules were a place where he would be willing to negotiate. The last two stimulus checks followed roughly the same rules — the full amount was available to individuals making $75,000 per year or less.

Yellen told CNN that he would not let the eligibility threshold drop lower than $60,000 per year. he argued: "If you think about an elementary school teacher or a policeman making $60,000 a year and faced with children who are out of school and people who may have had to withdraw from the labor force in order to take care of them and many extra burdens, the president thinks, and I would certainly agree, that it's appropriate for people there to get support."

If Biden is truly targeting $60,000 per year as the threshold, he aims about $10,000 over the number quoted by Republicans and conservative Democrats in the U.S. Congress. This could be a sign that he is trying to compromise, not just for practical purposes but showing that he can work with those across the aisle.

"President Biden is certainly willing to work with members of Congress to define what's fair and he wouldn't want to see a household making over $300,000 receive these payments," said Yellen.

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Still, many critics say that Biden should not waste his time with these theatrical negotiations — especially with the budget reconciliation process open to him. He and the Democrats could pass his $1.9 trillion stimulus package as-is, and for many Americans suffering under this economic crisis, that would be ideal.

Biden and other Democrats still have not said whether they are pursuing that course or trying to compromise. In the meantime, criticism is piling up on both sides for the delays.