Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Republicans Puts Down Marker on Next Coronavirus-Aid Bill

Photo: Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg News
Trump pushes payroll-tax cut despite resistance from Senate Republicans
Republicans on Monday outlined their priorities for the next round of coronavirus aid, calling for legal protections for businesses and money to reopen schools but no new funding for states and cities sought by Democrats, kicking off a sprint to pass legislation by early August.
Senate Republicans are expected to unveil their bill later this week at a critical moment in the coronavirus pandemic, with cases increasing in many states and new signs that the economic recovery may be stalling. More than 140,000 people have died in the U.S. as a result of the virus.
But ahead of negotiations with Democrats, congressional Republicans and the White House haven’t yet reached agreement on many issues for the package, including whether to include a payroll-tax cut and additional funding for coronavirus testing and tracing and distribution of an eventual vaccine. And Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that a bill that didn’t include new aid for states and cities was a nonstarter.
President Trump reiterated Monday that he wants a payroll-tax cut, but didn’t repeat a threat to veto the bill if it didn’t include that measure. “We’re talking about a lot of things, not just the payroll-tax cut,” Mr. Trump said at a meeting with GOP leaders.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who said the administration is aiming for a $1 trillion price tag, said the focus of the aid would be on “kids and jobs and vaccines.” He also said the administration wants tax credits to provide incentives for businesses to rehire people and money for states that reopen schools, but without being specific.
Democrats have pushed for funding for schools and universities to cover the cost of reopening during a pandemic. But they oppose conditioning school funding on plans to reopen.
Democrats have called for continuing enhanced unemployment payments of $600 a week through January, another round of stimulus checks for households as well as funding for state and local governments. House Democrats passed a bill in May calling for more than $3 trillion in new aid overall. Senate Republicans and the White House rejected that proposal, but they have signaled support for another round of stimulus checks, and a more modest level of unemployment payments, as the pandemic continues to weigh on the economy.
Read the rest from the WSJ HERE.

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