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Sanders criticizes Democrats willing to pare down eligibility for stimulus checks

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGOP is consumed by Trump conspiracy theories Manchin on collision course with Warren, Sanders Sanders on Cheney drama: GOP is an 'anti-democratic cult' MORE (I-Vt.) on Saturday hit fellow Democrats who he says are looking to lower the eligibility thresholds for coronavirus stimulus checks. 

The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee tweeted Saturday evening that it was “unbelievable” that there were some Democrats “who want to lower the income eligibility for direct payments from $75,000 to $50,000 for individuals, and $150,000 to $100,000 for couples.” 

“In other words, working class people who got checks from Trump would not get them from Biden,” the Vermont senator tweeted from his personal account. “Brilliant!”

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In another tweet minutes later, Sanders posted from his Senate account that he “strongly” opposes lowering the eligibility threshold, adding, “In these difficult times, ALL working class people deserve the full $1,400.” 

“Last I heard, someone making $55,000 a year is not ‘rich,’” Sanders added. 

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Several Twitter users indicated support for Sanders’s remarks, including fellow progressive, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezBattle lines drawn over Biden's support for vaccine waivers Overnight Energy: Update on Biden administration conservation goals | GOP sees opportunity to knock Biden amid rising gas prices | Push for nationwide electric vehicle charging stations The Memo: The GOP's war is already over — Trump won MORE (D-N.Y.), who retweeted Sanders’s post, writing, “It would be outrageous if we ran on giving more relief and ended up doing the opposite.”

Under President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, stimulus checks have been set at $1,400, though the proposal kept the structure of phasing out the payments for individuals making more than $75,000 or couples making more than $150,000. 

However, senators in recent days have been discussing making changes to the phaseout structure of the next round of stimulus checks amid broader concern that high-income earners would be eligible for payments unless Congress makes changes.

The Washington Post first reported Tuesday that some senior Democrats had been discussing a proposal to begin phasing out stimulus checks for those who earn above $50,000 for single taxpayers, $75,000 for people who file as the heads of households and $100,000 for married couples. 

On Thursday, the Senate voted 99-1 on an amendment from Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture Manchin on collision course with Warren, Sanders Manchin touts rating as 'most bipartisan senator' MORE (D-W.Va.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts House to advance appropriations bills in June, July Manchin touts rating as 'most bipartisan senator' MORE (R-Maine) related to "targeting" the checks and making sure that "upper-income taxpayers are not eligible."

"I don't think a single person on this floor would disagree to target the relief to our neighbors who are struggling to pay rent and put food on the table," Manchin said ahead of the vote. 

Collins added, "Do we want stimulus checks to go to households with family incomes of $300,000, or do we want to target the assistance to struggling families who need the help and provide a boost for the economy?" 

Sanders said in his own remarks before the vote that no one supported families with incomes of $300,000 per year getting a check, adding that lawmakers should back direct assistance for individuals who make up to $75,000 and married couples who make up to $150,000. 

The Hill has reached out to Manchin as well as Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden to meet with 6 GOP senators next week The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture How to fast-track climate action? EPA cutting super pollutant HFCs MORE (D-N.Y.) for comment on Sanders’s Saturday tweets.