Sanders criticizes Democrats willing to pare down eligibility for stimulus checks

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFilibuster becomes new litmus test for Democrats Gallego says he's been approached about challenging Sinema Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans 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-CortezThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Missouri House Democrat becomes latest to test positive for COVID-19 Louisiana Rep. Troy Carter announces positive COVID-19 test 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 ManchinLawmaker arrested amid voting rights protest says he'd 'do it again' No Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way WATCH: The Hill recaps the top stories of the week MORE (D-W.Va.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden clarifies his remarks on Russia Effort to overhaul archaic election law wins new momentum Bipartisan lawmakers announce climate adaptation bill 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 SchumerDemocrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Predictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure Voting rights and Senate wrongs MORE (D-N.Y.) for comment on Sanders’s Saturday tweets.