• President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will meet at the White House on Monday afternoon with Republican lawmakers to discuss legislation that would provide millions of Americans with a new stimulus check.
  • President Biden wants to send out a third round of stimulus checks, with payments generally set at $1,400.
  • Republicans, however, have countered with a stimulus proposal that would send out $1,000 stimulus checks to fewer people.

As talks continue in Washington DC between leaders of both political parties over legislation promising millions of Americans a new stimulus check, it’s starting to become apparent that Republicans are laying a trap for President Biden that’s wrapped up in a veneer of bipartisanship.

At this point, with the prospect of a third round of stimulus checks still a bit up in the air, the new president faces two choices when it comes to those $1,400 direct payments he promised Americans. He can prioritize his promise to pursue “unity” and bend over backwards to accommodate political opponents, which in this case would almost assuredly mean fewer people receiving a stimulus check, thanks to a new counter-offer from GOP lawmakers. According to the terms of a $600 billion stimulus proposal offered to Biden by a group of Republican Senators over the weekend, not only would fewer people receive a new check, but people would also get a smaller stimulus check than they expected. Then, there’s the other option for President Biden.

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He could, instead, choose to act in accordance with the promise that he made to voters, as well as to Georgians who voted last month in that state’s high-stakes runoff election, all of whom were led to believe that Democratic control of the White House and Senate would result, among other things, in new stimulus payments of $2,000.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are scheduled to sit down with GOP leaders at the White House later today to walk through the alternative stimulus proposal. Biden extended the meeting invitation over the weekend, and according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, he also asked the lawmakers to be prepared to share “a full exchange of views.”

Among the key pieces of the new GOP proposal: $1,000 stimulus checks, instead of the $1,400 payments that were a starting point in Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan.”

Not only that, but those $1,000 stimulus payments would go out to fewer people, if the Republicans had their way. Those checks would phase out for individuals making $40,000 a year or more, with people who make $50,000 a year or more not receiving a payment at all. For married taxpayers, the new payments would start to phase out if they jointly make $80,000 a year or more, and married taxpayers who file taxes jointly and who make at least $100,000 a year would get nothing at all.

On a related note, but separate from the Republican issue, President Biden also needs to decide how to address growing discontent in Democratic ranks.

Democrats had been expecting Biden to push for $2,000 stimulus checks, not an amount that equals $2,000 only by including the stimulus checks that were part of the $900 billion COVID relief package that President Trump signed into law in December ($600 checks + $1,400 checks = $2,000).

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Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.