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CORONAVIRUS

Second stimulus check: Republican senators, White House agree on measure

Speaking on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly endorsed a second coronavirus Economic Impact Payment "to help American families keep driving our national comeback".

Update:
Washington (United States), 21/07/2020.- US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks during a news conference following a Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, 21 July 2020. Trump administration officials such as White Ho
MICHAEL REYNOLDSEFE

Senate Republicans have reportedly clashed with Trump administration chiefs and with each other over the make-up of the next coronavirus relief package - but there appear to be few arguments over the inclusion of a second stimulus check.

Clashes over bill provisions, but agreement on second stimulus check

According to a report in Forbes, there was disagreement at a lunch meeting with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin this week over "various aspects of a potential relief bill, including the overall cost".

Axios reports that one lawmaker described the meeting as "messy", and that Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) stormed out over his opposition to the bill's potential spend.

However, Forbes says GOP senators are "coalescing" around measures such as a White House-backed plan for another batch of checks - officially known as Economic Impact Payments - even if the exact details of such a provision remain "hazy".

McConnell publicly endorses second direct payment

Indeed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has now offered a public endorsement of a second stimulus check for the first time. "We want another round of direct payments - direct payments to help American families keep driving our national comeback," McConnell said on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump told Fox of his support for a second check, stating that he is in favor of bigger payments than those sent out as part of the CARES Act.

"I support actually larger numbers than the Democrats, but it’s got to be done properly," Trump said. "I want the money getting to people to be larger so they can spend it."

Under the CARES Act, a $2.2tn relief package passed in March, Americans earning less than $75,000 were given a check for $1,200. Checks for a steadily smaller amount were also available to higher earners, up to a final income limit of $99,000.

McConnell hints at lower income cap on second check

Two weeks ago, McConnell appeared to suggest that eligibility for a second check could be significantly reduced by applying a far lower income limit, declaring: “The people that I think have been hit the hardest during this whole episode have been people making $40,000 a year or less.”

He added: "Many of them work in the hospitality business, hotels, restaurants - we're going to be acutely aware of that particular segment of our population going into this next package that we'll be putting together in the next few weeks."

Citing a source close to discussions over future stimulus legislation, however, Bloomberg has since reported that a cut-off point as low as this "is not seen as likely".

$40,000 would see 20m more Americans left out

According to the economist Ernie Tedeschi, a $40,000 income cap would see around 20 million Americans who qualified for a CARES Act check shut out of the second round of payments.

Live coverage of the coronavirus crisis

As of 06:30 ET, the coronavirus pandemic had led to 3,970,908 cases and 143,190 deaths in the United States. You can stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the Covid-19 crisis by following our US-focused live blog.

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