Democratic senator tells Republican: ‘We’re stuck’

President Joe Biden takes part in a roundtable discussion Friday about the Covid-19 relief plan.
President Joe Biden takes part in a roundtable discussion Friday about the Covid-19 relief plan. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Biden touted his administration’s Covid-19 relief package, telling participants in a White House roundtable that the American Rescue Plan, “is going to provide immediate relief for millions of people that are going to be able to use it in a very constructive way and also grow the economy in the process.”

The Senate’s version of the bill is being debated now. If the bill passes in the Senate, it will have to go back to the House for a separate vote before Biden signs it into law.

“This isn’t some academic discussion, it’s about you, it’s about people like you, and families I grew up with, all over America.” Biden told the group Friday at the White House.

Biden was joined by Alma Williams, a WMATA driver who provides paratransit to disabled individuals, George Kerr, a veteran and LGBTQ advocate who’s faced housing instability, and Lyda Vanegas, who works for the DC-based non-profit Mary’s Center.

“You’ve all lived lives of service, not only have taken care of yourself and your families, but you’ve lived lives of service to help other people as well,” Biden told the group, adding he “wanted this to be a conversation about what the impact of the $1400 that our plan has for every American out there, and to make sure that I understand what you think is important about it, if you think it’s important.”

“People are hurting right now,” Biden said. “The American Rescue Plan, I believe, and according to polling data, the vast majority of Americans believe, is essential to giving them some help, and to turn it around. 

Some more context: Biden and the Democrats are racing to enact the legislation before millions of Americans start losing pandemic unemployment benefits on March 14.

The Senate bill would provide direct payments worth up to $1,400 per person to families earning less than $160,000 a year and individuals earning less than $80,000 a year. The payments will phase out faster than they would have under the House version of the bill, which set the income caps at $200,000 for couples and $100,000 for individuals.

That means that not everyone who was eligible for a check earlier will receive one now — but for those who do qualify, the new payments will top up the $600 checks approved in December, bringing recipients to a total of $2,000 apiece.

CNN’s Tami Luhby and Katie Lobosco contributed reporting to this post.