Many Americans are hoping for a second COVID-19 stimulus check to help them get through the continuing pandemic. However, there’s one big roadblock standing between them and another check: The Republican-controlled Senate.
Democrats have already passed the bill for another check, but the plan needs to make it through the Senate, which is firmly in GOP hands. However, what have top Republicans said about the notion of a second check? It’s actually looking far more promising than it did before, and some people attribute that to President Donald Trump’s sagging poll numbers in battleground states. Senate leaders have said a second stimulus package would happen in July, if it does at all.
According to CNBC, the second round of stimulus checks could get families as much as $6,000, and they’d also include people who were left out the last time, like adult dependents (many of whom are college students.) Unemployment insurance would also be extended. However, that’s the Democratic plan, and it’s likely that a GOP plan would take a different form.
What have top Republicans said about a second check?
President Trump Says Another Stimulus Package Will Happen & It Will Be ‘Very Generous’
Let’s start at the top. President Donald Trump is now on the record in support of a second stimulus package for the American people.
Trump said recently, “We will be doing another stimulus package, it will be very good, very generous.” Asked if there would be a second check, Trump also said, “We are, we are” and said it would be “very dramatic, very good.”
The Washington Post reported: “President Trump has told aides he is largely supportive of sending Americans another round of stimulus checks, expressing the belief that the payments will boost the economy and help his chances at reelection in November.”
Mitch McConnell Says Another Stimulus Package Will Be Carefully Drawn
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been cautious on the notion of another stimulus package. “You could anticipate the decision being made on whether to go forward in about a month,” McConnell said in early June. “And it will be narrowly crafted, designed to help us where we are a month from now, not where we were three months ago.”
McConnell has indicated a second package will “come soon” and said it will prioritize investing in “future generations,” but he didn’t explain exactly what that meant. He has advocated for COVID-19 liability shields for universities and corporations, according to Forbes.
It’s likely the package won’t take the exact form of the Democratic House HEROES Act, which McConnell pronounced “dead on arrival” back in May. “What you’ve seen in the House [from] Nancy is not something designed to deal with reality, but designed to deal with aspirations. This is not a time for aspirational legislation, this is a time for practical response to the coronavirus pandemic,” McConnell said at that time.
A Republican Senator Revealed a Second Stimulus Check Is ‘Going to Happen’
A Republican Senator now says a second round of COVID-19 stimulus checks is “going to happen.”
“It is going to happen, it’s just not going to happen yet,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe said, according to WFLA-TV. His comments came on June 26 after a GOP luncheon that focused on the issue.
However, he expressed caution as to the form the checks would take, saying, “What you don’t want to do is have a reward given to people who don’t want to work.” The station reported that a payroll tax holiday is also on the table, and a second round of stimulus checks would be passed by the Republican-controlled Senate in July, if it occurs.
According to Forbes, Inhofe also revealed, “the idea of a second stimulus check fueled two hours of discussion at the lunch,” and GOP Senators “were supportive, but working through details.” Forbes indicated that Republicans may be warming up to the idea of a second stimulus check round because President Trump is, which may be driven in part by concern over battleground polling numbers.
The Treasury Secretary & Director of the White House National Economic Council
The Washington Post reported in late June that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is also advocating for a second round of stimulus checks, although there remains some division among Republicans. Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, has said the checks could be tax rebates or direct mail checks, according to The Post.
“I think we’re going to seriously look at whether we want to do more direct money to stimulate the economy,” Mnuchin said. “We’re talking about a bunch of different ideas that we may need to do in another bill, and we want to take our time and make sure we’re thoughtful. So whatever we do, it’ll be much more targeted, much more focused on jobs, bringing back jobs and making sure we take care of our kids.”
“I think we need to move from rescue and assistance to more long-term economic growth incentives,” Kudlow told Fox Business. “For example, the president mentioned payroll tax holidays for the workforce, he talked about capital gains [tax rebates], he talked about tax breaks for restaurants, entertainment, sports contests, he’s talked about tax breaks for tourism.”
Kudlow has told CNN there “will be a return-to-work benefit.”
Some Top Republicans Have Also Advocated for Back-to-Work Bonuses
At least one top Republican has floated making the second round of COVID-19 stimulus checks “back-to-work” bonuses instead. Back in May, Senator Rob Portman, D-Ohio, raised that idea instead of extending the federal unemployment insurance checks of $600 a week.
He told CNBC he was “talking to Republicans and Democrats about” giving people back-to-work bonuses instead.
“Why not provide a bonus to people to say, ‘If you go back to work, you can take some of this unemployment insurance with you.’ If you take $450, as an example, per week, remember this is per week, that would mean that in every state for minimum [wage] workers it would be more advantageous go back to work than to stay on unemployment insurance,” he said to the network then. “If you did a $450 bonus to workers, good for workers, they’re going to get their salary plus that.”
According to the Hill, a prominent GOP congressman introduced a similar plan for a “return to work bonus.” According to the Hill, the idea is “gaining traction among Republicans.”
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, introduced a proposal to give people who return to work after getting unemployment benefits up to $1,200.
“Through a Return To Work Bonus — which would allow workers to keep up to two weeks of unemployment benefits if they accept a job offer — we can make sure these temporary job losses don’t turn into permanent ones,” Brady said in a statement.
Both of their plans call for the checks to stop July 31.