WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and Democrats agreed to tighten eligibility limits for stimulus checks Wednesday, bowing to party moderates as leaders prepared to move their $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill through the Senate.
Watch the session in the video player above.
At the same time, the White House and top Democrats stood by progressives and agreed that the Senate package would retain the $400 weekly emergency unemployment benefits included in the House-passed pandemic legislation. Moderates have wanted to trim those payments to $300 after Republicans have called the bill so heedlessly generous that it would prompt some people to not return to work.
The deal-making underscored the balancing act Democrats face as they try squeezing the massive relief measure through the evenly divided, 50-50 Senate. The package, Biden’s signature legislative priority, is his attempt to stomp out the year-old pandemic, revive an economy that’s shed 10 million jobs and bring some semblance of normality to countless upended lives.
Democrats have no choice but to broker compromises among themselves, thanks to their mere 10-vote House margin and a Senate they control only with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote. The party’s moderate and progressive factions are competing to use their leverage, but without going so far as to scuttle an effort they all support.