Senate Republicans are expected to unveil a $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill Thursday that lacks a payroll tax cut as well as more direct payments to individuals.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the top White House negotiator on pandemic relief legislation, offered bill details during a morning CNBC appearance.
Items in the core Republican bill will include $105 billion in support for school reopening, Mnuchin said. It has a liability shield for businesses that reopen, reduces a boost in federal unemployment insurance down to 70 percent of pre-pandemic pay and extends the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) opted to release multiple bills instead of just one package. And although direct payments won’t be in the core package, it’s likely to be in a smaller side package, Mnuchin said.
The legislative approach by McConnell is different than in prior relief bills, where Democrats and Republicans hashed out grand compromises after lengthy backroom horse-trading.
“Well, the process is, there are individual bills for all these different programs. [White House chief of staff] Mark Meadows and I were working late last night with Mitch and his staff,” Mnuchin said.
Many Republicans object to more direct payments, and President Trump’s requested payroll tax cut found few backers in the GOP caucus.
There’s also likely to be fierce disagreement on reducing the federal unemployment insurance boost, which expires this month. Democrats want a continued $600 weekly boost, but many Republicans are saying that disincentivizes a return to work.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) denounced the anticipated reduction in unemployment pay, saying that “because this administration has mismanaged the crisis, Republicans want you to take a 30 percent pay cut in the middle of this crisis.”
Schumer said he disapproved of the GOP liability shield for businesses and that a new bill should boost food assistance to the needy.
“Leader McConnell has made corporate immunity the centerpiece of this Republican response,” Schumer said. “Once again, the Republican Senate is far more comfortable providing relief to big corporations than relief to American workers and American families.”
Senators face pressure to reach a quick deal to allow themselves their traditional monthlong August vacation, but leaders on both sides aren’t optimistic.
Trump tweeted Thursday he was disappointed there would not be a payroll tax cut in the core Republican package.
“The Democrats have stated strongly that they won’t approve a Payroll Tax Cut (too bad!). It would be great for workers. The Republicans, therefore, didn’t want to ask for it. Dems, as usual, are hurting the working men and women of our Country!” Trump wrote.
In May, House Democrats passed a $3 trillion relief bill including bailouts for states and rent and mortgage assistance, in what was widely considered the Democratic opening bid in negotiations.
McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to a request for more information on the GOP bill, which is expected to be released Thursday.