McConnell proposes $1,200 payments
WASHINGTON >> Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed direct payments of $1,200 per person and $2,400 for couples as part of an initial Republican response Thursday to the coronavirus outbreak.
The GOP leader unveiled his plan as Congress raced to craft a $1 trillion rescue package to shore up households, healthcare and the U.S. economy amid the pandemic crisis and nationwide shutdown that’s hurtling the country toward a likely recession.
“We need to take bold and swift action as soon as possible,” McConnell, announcing his plan on the Senate floor.
It’s an opening salvo in fast-track talks with Democrats as President Donald Trump urges Congress to “go big” to respond as Americans reel from the crisis.
Under the GOP leader’s plan, the aid would be phased out at income thresholds of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 per couple. Additionally, there would be $500 payments for each child.
McConnell’s proposal aligns with the Trump administration’s push to swiftly send a first round of checks to American households for immediate needs.
Additionally, the McConnell plan would provide $300 billion in loans to small businesses, including loans that would eventually be forgiven for employers
who use them to meet payroll expenses.
Keeping paychecks flowing for idled workers as jobless claims skyrocket is a top priority for both Republican and Democratic plans emerging from Congress. But how best to send direct payments to Americans — as one-time stipends, ongoing payroll support or unemployment checks — is a crucial debate.
Democrats have their own proposals for ushering aid to Americans, and even McConnell’s GOP senators panned Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s idea of direct checks of $3,000 for a family of four — preferring instead to use the federal dollars to keep workers who are asked to stay home on the business payrolls.
“What I want is income, not one check,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., summing up the views of some exiting a long, private meeting of GOP senators on Capitol Hill.
Trump administration officials, including Mnuchin and economic adviser Larry Kudlow, are expected to return
to Capitol Hill on Friday to launch bipartisan negotiations with Senate Democrats.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on a conference call with more than 220 House Democrats, urged them to “think big,” according to people on the call granted anonymity to discuss it.
Pelosi reminded them after her recent talk with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that interest rates are low. The outlay should be considered an investment, Pelosi told them.
Democrats compiling their own priorities in the House and Senate suggest other ways to keep paychecks flowing in what Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called “employment insurance” — which he characterized as “unemployment insurance on steroids.”
Schumer said utilizing the existing unemployment insurance system run by the states would be a “quick and easy” way to distribute money to the newly jobless.
“People desperately need it,” Schumer said.