More than two months after the Democratic-led House of Representatives approved a $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, Senate Republicans are set to introduce a nearly $1 trillion plan on Monday.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the package will likely be introduced in parts, with lawmakers set to approve $100 billion to assist schools reopening, $16 billion to expand COVID-19 testing and $1,200 checks to untold millions of Americans. But several components of the final deal may not be resolved for days or weeks.
Lawmakers and the Trump administration are still grappling with how to assist millions of Americans who’ve lost their jobs as a $600 unemployment insurance boost expires this month. Democrats want to extend the supplemental insurance through the end of the year, but Republicans say it’s a disincentive for the unemployed to rejoin the workforce, and will instead target back-to-work bonuses or smaller increases to unemployment payments.
“We can move very quickly with the Democrats on these issues,” Mnuchin said on Fox News Sunday. “We’ve moved quickly before, and I see no reason that we can’t move quickly again. And if there are issues that take longer, we’ll deal with those as well.”
The deal hammered out by Senate leaders and the Trump administration thus far includes $1,200 stimulus checks similar to the ones issued through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed by President Donald Trump in late March.
While Republicans have not yet specified income limits for the checks, Trump administration officials indicated in recent days that they have strayed from the idea proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to cap the checks at those earning less than $40,000.
Mnuchin told reporters on Thursday that the $1,200 check proposal “is the exact same provision as last time,” Bloomberg reported. If that holds up through negotiations with GOP senators and Democrats, that means that tens of millions of Americans could again be eligible for the payments. Americans earning up to $75,000 already received at least $1,200. Married couples who made less than $150,000 a year received $2,400 and $500 for each dependent under 18 — through the CARES Act.
Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have noted that those earning more than $40,000, especially those living in costly areas, still need assistance in the wake of a pandemic that’s shut down businesses and much of public life for months.
For more on the stimulus checks, read here.
Larry Kudlow, Trump administration economic adviser, said on CNN that the bill would include a second round of stimulus checks as well back-to-work and retention bonuses, and tax credits to help struggling small businesses and restaurants, which have been hit hard by the pandemic amid social distancing guidelines and as people stayed at home to avoid spreading the virus.
The package will not include a temporary payroll tax cut that Trump had been calling for in recent months. Not enough Republicans or Democrats supported the measure, which would have provided some direct relief to workers and employers but not the unemployed.
Democrats are likely to push for more state and local aid to help governments that have been forced to layoff public employees due to unforeseen budget shortfalls. Republicans have balked at the $875 trillion Democrats approved for state, local and tribal governments in the $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act.
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