The Senate will start work next week on a second stimulus bill, but what will be included in that legislation is up in the air.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Monday that Republicans are set to announce their plans for the next, and possibly last, round of economic relief next week.
"When my members come back next week, we'll start socializing it with them, begin to discuss it with the Democrats and start the legislative process," McConnell said. "I think you can anticipate this coming to a head sometime within the next three weeks, beginning next week."
The Senate is scheduled to be in recess from Aug. 10 to Sept. 7.
McConnell has said he wants to focus on liability protections for business and schools as they are set to reopen, and a possible second stimulus check for those who make less than $40,000 a year. McConnell wants to keep spending to around $1 trillion.
National Economic Council Director and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said last week that a second stimulus check will be smaller than the first, according to Fox Business.
President Donald Trump already has said he favors another stimulus check.
“I support actually larger numbers than the Democrats,” the president said July 1, referring to the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, or HEROS, Act passed in May.
The bill calls for $3 trillion in additional coronavirus relief, including a $1,200 stimulus check for nearly everyone in the country, and trillions of dollars to state and local governments affected by the coronavirus.
Republicans are not in favor of sending money to cities and states, saying they do not believe American taxpayers should bail out poorly run state and local governments.
“A trillion dollars is, OK, that’s an interesting starting point, but it doesn’t come anywhere near,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California., said July 9. “We need $1 trillion for state and local [assistance]. We need another $1 trillion for unemployment insurance and direct payments. We need something like that, but probably not as much, for the [coronavirus] testing, tracing, treatment.
"What doesn't measure up is, 'Oh, it can only be a trillion dollars.'"
Two pillars of the earlier stimulus package – federal unemployment checks and a loan program designed to keep businesses going during the spring shutdown of much of the economy – are soon to run out.
The additional $600 weekly unemployment insurance check is set to be discontinued July 31. The Small Business Association's Paycheck Protection Program runs through Aug. 8.
McConnell has not commented on plans for extending either program, though he and other Republicans have said that a $600 a week unemployment program is a disincentive to return to work.
What could be on the table for the next stimulus plan? Here’s a look at some proposals from both Democrats and Republicans.
- Payroll tax cut: Trump has called for a payroll tax holiday several times. A holiday from paying payroll tax would mean that both employers and employees would not have to pay the 7.65% federal tax that is taken out of every paycheck. Many Republicans have spoken out against the idea.
- State and local funding: While Democrats have made this a priority, both Trump and most Republicans have expressed no interest in earmarking funds to help municipalities and states they say have been mismanaged for years. Democrats argue that the money is needed to pay back state and local governments that have borne the brunt of the cost incurred in paying health care workers, police, firefighters and other first responders.
- Funds for education and funds for health care: Both Democrats and Republicans have indicated they would favor money spent to make schools safer for students, teachers and staff members and to pay for more COVID-19 testing, bonuses to health care workers and to shore up resources at rural hospitals.
- Small business loans: As with education, both parties have expressed interest in extending the PPP loan program.
- Liability protection: Republicans are for legislation that would protect businesses from being sued for issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Democrats say they are not in favor of spending money for businesses in that way.
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