Today, President Donald J. Trump held a meeting joined by Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to discuss the fourth stimulus payments and progress regarding a COVID-19 vaccine.
Senator McConnell hopes to roll out a one trillion dollar package this week. The House earlier passed a three trillion dollar plan that the GOP said was a none starter in the United States Senate. Added unemployment benefits in the first coronavirus stimulus package is due to expire this week.
Earlier this month President Trump signed an extension to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) deadline, which expires at the end of July.
According to the Washington Post, the GOP’s proposal fourth package will include a reduction of the $600 per week federal unemployment benefits (currently slated to expire at the end of this month), according to the Washington Post—these benefits could be a major point road blocker between Democrats and Republicans as negotiations begin this week.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is more concerned about a “redline” liability protection for businesses that reopened amid the coronavirus. The liability is also a major point of contention between Democrats and Republicans. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted Monday, “Senator McConnell is writing a COVID bill that will prioritize corporate special interests over workers and main street businesses, and will fail to adequately address the worsening spread of COVID. Workers and families and people—not special interests—must be our main focus.”
The bill will include a payroll tax cut, but some Republicans and Democrats are opposed this provision. But a second stimulus check, is expected to be part of the bill, as well as $70 billion for schools. A tax credit is also proposed for businesses the fourth go around.
In a letter to the Democratic leaders, Senator Schumer wrote “ “Unfortunately, by all accounts the Senate Republicans are drafting legislation that comes up short in a number of vital areas, such as extending unemployment benefits or funding for rental assistance, hazard premium pay for frontline workers, or investments in communities of color being ravaged by the virus, and many other necessary provisions. Democrats will need to fight hard for these important provisions.”
Vice-President Mike Pence said, “it’s important that the Congress come together and provide additional resources for families that have been impacted, businesses that have been impacted. We’ll make sure our healthcare workers and our states have the resources that they need. But also, Mr. President, we’re going to continue to advance policies that’ll make it possible for us to open up America again and open up America’s schools.”
GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said “We are making great strides when it comes to therapies, what — this Warp Speed. History will write about this. When we get to the moment in time that we have this vaccine, they’ll write about how fast it would and no other country could do what we did because of the ingenuity of this nation. And that’s the focus of what we’re trying to do for the safety of this country, for our students, for our teachers, and for our businesses that we’re back to work again, stronger and safer and more united.”