OnPolitics: Keep your eyes on the (COVID) money

A hand holding a small American flag and a stimulus check from the U.S. Treasury.

Happy hump day, OnPolitics readers! We are six weeks into the Biden presidency. Can you believe? Time flies when you’re trying to handle a once-in-a-generation pandemic.

More numbers for you:

  • Senate Democrats reached a deal with President Joe Biden to limit the eligibility for $1,400 checks in his $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill.
  • More than 206,000 Americans signed up for health insurance through the federally run HealthCare.gov in the first two weeks of the three-month special enrollment period.
  • The commander of the District of Columbia National Guard said Wednesday that Pentagon officials delayed giving him authority to dispatch 155 troops to the Capitol on Jan. 6 by more than three hours.

It’s Mabinty, with your guide to the day’s political news.

Who lives, who dies, who is actually getting a COVID check

It’s the question that many Americans want to know: Who is eligible for a $1,400 stimulus check?

According to two sources familiar with the deliberations not authorized to speak on the record, checks would start to phase out at $75,000 and phase out entirely at $80,000 of income for individuals, as opposed to about $100,000 in the version of the legislation passed by the House last week. Joint filers would have their checks phase-out starting at $150,000 and entirely at $160,000.

The deal kept a federal boost to unemployment benefits at $400 a week through August, the sources said, rather than September as liberals such as Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., advocated.

Who’s happy: Moderate lawmakers who did not want the checks to go to wealthier Americans.

Who’s not quite as happy: Many Americans who could have received at least some payment will now receive none. On the progressive side: Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who chairs the Progressive Caucus, said, “I don’t like that this is being narrowed. I feel like the survival checks are the easiest, simplest, most popular … proposal,” but said she wanted to look more closely.

What else is in the bill? Democrats want to increase the child tax credit up to $3,600 per child under age 6 and $3,000 for children up to age 17 for one year to help combat the economic damage of the pandemic.

Republicans have derided proposals such as the tax credit as not relevant in a COVID-19 relief package and oppose efforts to make it permanent.

  • Biden’s months-long crusade to pass a stimulus plan may enter its final stretch Wednesday, when senators could begin 20 hours of debate on the measure that is expected to come to a vote later in the week.

Andrew Cuomo isn’t resigning, if you were wondering

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he will not cede to a growing number of calls for his resignation amid a sexual harassment scandal, pleading for residents to wait for an investigation to conclude before forming their opinions.

The details: Cuomo, a Democrat, appeared in public for the first time since Feb. 24, offering his first on-camera comments since three women – including two former aides – gave detailed accusations of sexual harassment.

The embattled governor apologized for any actions that offended the women but said he didn’t know he was making them uncomfortable. He pledged to cooperate with an investigation led by Attorney General Letitia James’ office.

  • No one is saying it’s rape. They’re saying the accusations against Cuomo matter.

Here’s what else happened today:

  • Biden on states lifting mask mandates: ‘The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking’
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken lays out Biden’s eight foreign policy priorities, from COVID-19 to China
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence attacks Democratic voting bill, 2020 election integrity in an op-ed

Since it’s Hump Day, I’m going to quote Bon Jovi: Woah, we’re halfway there, Woah, livin’ on a prayer! —Mabinty

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