WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this week the Senate will consider a new stimulus package in July but some fear a new jobs report could derail any plans for a second round of economic relief payments to Americans.
The US unemployment rate fell to 11.1% as the economy added a record 4.8 million jobs in June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. This follows May’s report showing the country gained 2.5 million jobs. With an employment growth trend in place, many analysts feel lawmakers might move past a second round of stimulus checks pointing to early signs of an economic recovery.
Nevertheless, President Donald Trump recently suggested a “very generous” second round of relief may be on the way. It’s just unclear how and if that might happen.
“We will be doing another stimulus package,” President Trump said in a late-June interview.
The president offered few details, however, saying, “It will be very good. It’ll be very generous.”
When asked how much the payment might be, Trump said, “You’ll find out about it. You’ll find out.” Trump added that he thought the relief funds would receive bipartisan support and could be announced “over the next couple of weeks.”
According to comments made this week by McConnell, we should get a better idea of a relief timeline before the end of the month.
“As you’ve heard suggested, I said back in March we would take another look at this… probably in July… take a snapshot of where we are, both on the healthy front and the economic recovery front, and decide at that point what needs to be done further,” McConnell said on Tuesday.
Congress and the Senate will recess from July 3 to July 20. It’s unlikely the Senate will consider any additional relief packages before July 20.
In a statement on Tuesday, McConnell accused Democrats of “political theater.”
“This political theater is the opposite of the serious Senate approach that built the CARES Act,” McConnell said in a statement on Tuesday. “Any further recovery efforts should focus intently on three things: Kids, jobs, and healthcare. Partisan theater and politicized wish-lists are not what our country needs,” McConnell added.
Proposals on the table
In late March, President Trump signed a stimulus package into law that included one-time payments of up to $1,200 for eligible Americans. As the weeks have turned into months since the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed, many Americans are wondering if, and when, a second check or prepaid debit card will arrive as the pandemic continues.
One proposal currently on the table is the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion bill, that includes $275 billion for testing and healthcare worker hazard pay, and a trillion dollars for state and local governments.
The HEROES Act was passed by House Democrats in May and would offer another round of $1,200 checks to American adults and children. It also expands the number of people who are eligible to receive government aid by including college students and older teenagers. The payments would be capped at $6,000 per household.
Politics at play
If you ask lawmakers why additional payments haven’t been distributed to Americans, Democrats will point the finger at McConnell while Republicans will blame Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
The bottom line for you: no new checks until things get worked out. And in the nation’s capital, that’s not always easy.
“I’m not that optimistic that anything will happen in Washington when it comes to another COVID-related stimulus bill,” said Republican congressman Rodney Davis of Illinois. “Speaker Pelosi decided on her own to put a $3 trillion wish list together and that allowed everyone in Washington to retreat to their partisan corners.”
Some lawmakers like Rep. Roger Marshall, a Republican from Kansas, feel we need a “wait-and-see” approach to any future relief.
“I don’t think we need to be spending more money right now.” Marshall said.
Rep. Davis believes the route Democrats took with loading $3 trillion into the HEROES Act makes it “more difficult to put any bipartisan legislation together in the future.”
As you might imagine, Davis and Marshall’s colleagues on the other side of the aisle see things differently.
“We’re waiting for Mitch McConnell over on the Senate side to get off his rear end and do something,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts. “Up to this point, he’s done nothing.”
“We need to do something,” McGovern added.
Rep David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, agreed with McGovern is saying that McConnell needs to take action — even if it’s creating his own GOP relief package and trying to push it through.
“What he can’t do is nothing,” said Cicilline. “There are too many people in this country hurting, there are too many people that have been impacted by COVID-19 and they expect Congress to provide additional relief.”
White House advisor wants payment to get to people ‘most in need’
Larry Kudlow, who serves as director of the White House National Economic Council, told Fox News Business he thinks “tax rebates or the direct mail checks” are being considered, but he said he believes the government should target out-of-work Americans.
“Probably, we would want to target those to those folks who lost their jobs and are most in need,” Kudlow told Fox News Business. “That’s the speculation on my part, but I think … that’s where it’s going.”
Kudlow said Trump wants “incentive-oriented policies” such as a payroll tax holiday to get people back to work. He added President Trump is considering deductions for restaurants, entertainment, tourism and sightseeing.
When pushed, Kudlow said he thought the tax rebates or direct mail payments “are on the table” but qualified the statement by saying that they are still in a “pre-decisional” phase.
“We want this to be a constructive package,” Kudlow said. “It may be that the tax rebates are part of that. I don’t want to say for sure… I don’t want to say for not… but I know it’s on the table.”