Draft Republican plan for U.S. coronavirus relief has more direct payments: aide

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Republicans plan to propose another round of direct payments to Americans in the next coronavirus relief bill, a senior aide said on Thursday, as the White House urged Republican lawmakers to get a $1 trillion relief package out quickly.

The draft proposal, which has not yet been presented to Democrats, includes direct payments to individuals and couples of $1,200 and $2,400 respectively, according to a senior Senate aide. But the aide cautioned that internal Republican talks were ongoing on a bill.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that, in the interest of speeding the package along, the White House is no longer pushing for the payroll tax cut long sought by Republican President Donald Trump.

Mnuchin also said the White House was working with Senate Republicans to hammer out language on extending enhanced unemployment benefits that expire on July 31.

Asked whether a payroll tax cut would be included in the proposal being put forth by Senate Republicans, Mnuchin said, “Not in this, but we’re going to come back. You know there might be a CARES 5.0.”

Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were back on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning meeting with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“One of the problems with the payroll tax cut is it takes time, so we are much more focused right now on the direct payments,” Mnuchin told reporters outside the White House.

“The unemployment insurance – we’re going back up to see the new language and work through that, he said. “We’re not going to pay people more to stay home than to work. So we’re looking at something that looks like a 70% wage replacement and working on the mechanics.”

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The Treasury secretary told reporters the proposal being worked out by Senate Republicans will include $16 billion in new funding for coronavirus testing, for a total of $25 billion.

“We’re focused on putting another trillion in quickly, that’ll be CARES 4.0. If we’ve got to come back for CARES 5.0, for more money, the president will consider that the time,” Mnuchin said in an interview earlier with CNBC.

Source: Reuters

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