WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the GOP coronavirus aid plan Monday which included a second round of stimulus checks. While many Americans will welcome news of another direct payment, it could be a while before you see the cash.
McConnell’s $1 trillion HEALS Act proposal was in stark contrast to a $3 trillion package previously approved by House Democrats. As you might imagine, there could be some extensive negotiations before both sides of the aisle agree on the next round of relief. According to the Associated Press, that process began late Monday when Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer at the speaker’s office for talks. As of Wednesday morning, lawmakers didn’t seem any closer to settling on a plan.
McConnell warned the timeline might be weeks and not days during an appearance last week in Ashland, Kentucky.
“Hopefully we can come together behind some package we can agree on in the next few weeks,” McConnell said, according to The Washington Post.
Not only could the process keep many unemployed Americans exposed with COVID-related insurance expiring this week but that means it would take that much longer for $1,200 direct payments to be distributed.
CNET estimated that if the GOP plan were to make it through Congress this week, it’s possible checks would be distributed in mid to late August. That’s also the timeline Mnuchin predicted for the next round of relief.
“The president’s preference is to make sure that we send out direct payments quickly so that in August people get more money. There is no question this worked before,” Mnuchin said last week in a CNBC interview.
However, McConnell’s timeline indicating “weeks” could potentially push the payments event later. The Senate is set for a recess after Friday, August 7 that would run through Labor Day.
How far off are Republican and Democrats on a deal? Pelosi isn’t happy with a GOP proposal to slash the current $600/weekly jobless benefit to $200 a week.
“This is wrong. We have to do what’s right for the American people,” The House Speaker said Monday.
Republicans argue the federal unemployment aid bump is too generous on top of state benefits and is discouraging employees from returning to work.
The GOP bill also provides $1.7 billion for a new FBI headquarters in Washington, a non-pandemic-related expense that’s a top priority for the president but not for lawmakers or McConnell. Trump’s hotel is across the street from it on Pennsylvania Avenue.
“They managed to have enough money for $2 billion for the FBI headquarters that benefits Trump hotel and they say they have no money for food assistance?” said Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. “What the heck is going on?”
“Senate Republicans have offered another bold framework to help our nation,” McConnell said. He called it a starting point in talks.
But Democrats said it was insufficient, and conservative Republicans quickly broke ranks on McConnell’s plan, arguing the spending was too much and priorities misplaced. Half the Republican senators could vote against the bill, some warned, and their opposition leaves McConnell heading into negotiations with Pelosi without the full force of the Senate majority behind him.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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