Mitch McConnell says the GOP backs a 2nd round of stimulus checks in its coronavirus relief bill

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate Majority Leader McConnell speaks to a reporter as he departs the Senate floor after a vote at the U.S. Capitol in WashingtonReuters
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that the GOP supported another round of stimulus checks "to help American families keep driving our national comeback."
  • McConnell's comment brings Republican legislators in line with the Trump administration and Democrats in supporting a second round of economic relief payments.
  • However, they're not all calling for the same criteria. McConnell has floated a $40,000 income cutoff for the next wave of checks to lower the cost of another stimulus package. Democrats objected to such a measure.
  • Congress is facing a deadline to pass a stimulus bill before expanded unemployment benefits expire at the end of the month.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that the GOP supported a second wave of stimulus checks in its coronavirus relief bill.

"We want another round of direct payments — direct payments to help American families keep driving our national comeback," McConnell said.

His comment brings Republicans on board with Democrats in supporting a fresh round of payments to Americans. The Trump administration has also indicated that it would back a second set of stimulus checks. But key details remain unclear, such as the payment amount and whether it would phase out at a certain income level.Advertisement

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McConnell has floated a $40,000 income cutoff in a bid to lower the cost of another spending package. While Republicans hope to keep new spending at roughly $1 trillion, Democrats are eyeing a package worth up to $3.5 trillion.

The economist Ernie Tedeschi has estimated that implementing that income cutoff could prevent as many as 20 million people from receiving checks.
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"The legislation I have begun to sketch out is neither another CARES Act to float the entire economy nor a typical stimulus bill for a nation that's ready to get back to normal," McConnell said on the Senate floor on Tuesday. In March, Congress authorized a wave of $1,200 payments for individuals earning up to $75,000 a year, plus $500 for each dependent child. The cash amount diminished until phasing out for those making above $99,000. Married couples earning up to $150,000 a year also qualified for the full payment.Advertisement

Democrats have expressed support for more payments with the same criteria — the economic relief package that House Democrats passed in May included the measure.

A loose agreement on a second round of checks is a small victory for legislators' hasty negotiations. The $600 weekly expansion for unemployment benefits is set to expire at the end of the month, yanking a critical federal lifeline from millions of jobless Americans.

Democrats want to extend the beefed-up payments until January, but Republican lawmakers and White House officials say the $600 weekly boost disincentivizes returning to work.Advertisement

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"We're going to make sure that we don't pay people more money to stay home than go to work," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday during a meeting with Republican legislators. He added that the GOP was looking for a "technical fix" for unemployment insurance.

Ironing out partisan differences is likely to push an aid bill's passage into August, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" earlier Tuesday.Advertisement

"I envision that this bill doesn't get done by the end of July," McCarthy said, adding that he expected to pass the package "probably in the first week of August."

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