Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is proposing direct payments of $1,200 per person and $2,400 for couples amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by The Associated Press.
The GOP leader was poised to unveil the sweeping response Thursday as Congress raced to draft a $1 trillion measure to shore up for households and the U.S. economy.
Among key elements would be the direct payments to Americans, aligned with the Trump administration’s push for quick cash aid.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to give Americans checks for $1,200, a proposal in line with what President Trump’s administration has pitched to help the economy amid the coronavirus crisis
The McConnell proposal, obained by the Associated Press, would make $75,000 the income threshold for individuals to get the full sum of money
Donald Trump said Thursday that he is against companies using economic bailout money from a stimulus package to give executives bonuses or buy back stock
Under McConnell’s proposal, the minimum payments would be $600, and aid would be phased down at income thresholds of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 per couple.
Additionally, there would be $500 payments for each child.
The announcement comes after the Senate swiftly passed a multi-billion dollar ‘phase two’ bill Wednesday and President Trump signed it into law late that night.
Included in the massive economic stimulus bill will be bailouts for companies suffering as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
But Democrats have been critical that these measures could be abused by executives at different firms who would end up giving themselves additional compensation with the money or putting it toward stock buybacks.
Buybacks are when a company reacquires its stock by purchasing shares back from its stockholders.
Trump asserted Thursday that he is in favor of stopping companies from using any coronavirus economic bailouts to be used for buybacks.
‘Well we don’t want that,’ he told reporters during a coronavirus press briefing at the White House, adding that he ‘wouldn’t mind’ including that as a measure in the phase three bill
WHAT’S IN REPUBLICANS’ CORONAVIRUS ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGE?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled the details of the phase three economic stimulus package from the Senate floor Thursday
CASH FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
McConnell said : ‘A rapid injection of cash to help small businesses through this turmoil’
What it means: – Small businesses will be given money to pay THEIR rent and workers
– Will be given through a grant that they will not need to pay back
– Cannot be used for owners to give themselves raises or increase their profits
CHECKS FOR FAMILIES
McConnell said: ‘Senate Republicans want to put cash in the hands of the American people’
What it means: – According to the Associated Press individuals will receive $1,200 and couple will get $2,400 plus $500 per child, with some income restrictions
– Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said each household will receive $1,000 per adult and $500 per child within three weeks of the bill passing
LOANS FOR BIG BUSINESS
McConnell said: ‘Entire sectors are being crushed by public health guidance, which is obviously no fault of their own’
What it means: – Industries will receive money and additional loans, which they must pay back, to help with ongoing costs
– McConnell clarified this money is not a bailout because the companies haven’t made any mistakes
MORE CASH FOR HOSPITALS?
McConnell said: ‘This is primarily a health crisis with an economic crisis strapped to its back’
What it means: – The measure will remove barriers to care and speed up innovation, like progress toward on a vaccine
– Fund hospitals and other health care centers
– Expand healthcare workers’ access to essential tools like respirator masks and ventilators
‘Well we don’t want that,’ he told reporters at the White House when asked if there could be an assurance that the economic stimulus package money wouldn’t be used for those reasons.
‘In fact some companies, as you know, did stock buybacks. And I was never happy with that,’ the president continued. ‘It’s very hard to tell them not to, but I would tell them not to. I would say I don’t like it for that reason. Some did, and it turned out that they could have waited a long time. It would have been much better off if they didn’t.’
The reporter pushed Trump on why that wasn’t included as a measure in the newly proposed package.
‘We can. We can,’ he said of adding that into the bill. ‘I wouldn’t mind making – I mean, you know, it takes many, many people in this case to tango. But as far as I’m concerned, conditions like that would be OK with me.’
While not all the details are out on the McConnell package, the dollar amount for Americans making more than $75,000 is more than what Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin previewed Thursday morning.
‘The first one would be $1,000 per person, $500 per child,’ Mnuchin said in a Fox Business Network interview Thursday. ‘So for a family of four, that’s a $3,000 payment.’
‘As soon as Congress passes this, we get this out in three weeks,’ he continued. ‘And then, six weeks later, if the president still has a national emergency, we’ll deliver another $3,000.’
McConnell said from the Senate floor Thursday afternoon that the GOP is on board.
‘The second major pillar of our legislation will be even more straight forward: direct financial help for Americans,’ he said. ‘Senate Republicans want to put cash in the hands of American people.’
Now that the bill has been laid out, McConnell is likely to begin talks with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to negotiate the terms of the third coronavirus economic relief package.
Although it is unclear how long the negotiations will take and when the Senate is expected to vote on phase three, McConnell told senators Wednesday not to go too far away from Washington, D.C.
‘I recommend senators stay close,’ he said from the Senate floor Wednesday night. ‘While we don’t know exactly how long it will take to get this done, everyone knows that we need to do it as quickly as possible because the situation demands it. So we’ll keep senators posted.’
‘I hope they don’t go too far away,’ he continued – even though the House began recess earlier this week and members are back in their home states as coronavirus cases continue to spike.
Mnuchin took the lead in negotiating the $105 billion phase two package with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week, but phase three was to begin with negotiations between McConnell and the White House first.
Then Senate Democrats would be added in.
‘The one thing I did tell [Mnuchin] as well, though, if there are going to be some of these corporate bailouts, we need to make sure workers and labor come first,’ Schumer said during a CNN interview Wednesday night.
‘That people are not laid off. That people’s salaries are not cut. If these big companies, many of which did buybacks… they have to put their workers first if they’re going to get this help,’ he continued.
Democrats have been critical of the Trump administration’s approach, claiming ideas like a payroll tax cut or holiday focuses too much on economic bailout rather than helping individual Americans financially affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
McConnell clarified when laying out the details of the bill on Thursday that the economic assistance for industries, like airlines, are not bailouts because the economic crisis is not the fault of those businesses.
‘Entire sectors are being crushed – crushed – by public health guidance, which is obviously no fault of their own,’ the Kentucky Republican said.
‘For example, our nation needs airlines, yet they have ongoing maintenance costs that do not disappear just because the government has chased away all the customers,’ he continued in his Senate floor remarks.
The phase two package included new programs for individuals affected by coronavirus, including paid sick and family leave.
The legislation also provides free testing for COVID-19, which has infected more than 9,000 Americans.
The bill passed in the Senate 90-8 on Wednesday afternoon, around the same time that Trump agreed that he was on ‘wartime footing’ in a bid to combat the pandemic and the subsequent economic fallout.
Although the new Republican-proposed bill may have bipartisan support, it appears increasingly difficult that Pelosi will be able to get the House back in session anytime soon to vote on the phase three stimulus package.
It proves even more impossible after two congressmen announced Wednesday night that they tested positive for coronavirus – Democratic Representative Ben McAdams of Utah and Republican Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.
The respiratory disease continues to rock the Capitol as House Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, his deputy Drew Ferguson of Georgia and fellow Republican Ann Wagner of Missouri said they are self-quarantining.
Scalise specifically said he is taking the step after an ‘extended meeting with [Diaz-Balart] late last week.’
The two new cases could mean several individuals on Capitol Hill were infected with coronavirus.
$1 TRILLION IN VIRUS BAILOUT REQUESTS AND COUNTING
As the coronavirus outbreak threatens to bring U.S. economic activity to a grinding halt, American businesses are jockeying for a financial lifeline from the administration of President Donald Trump.
The below have asked Washington, D.C., or state lawmakers for aid to offset the economic fallout of the coronavirus.
SHATTERED RESTAURANTS: 8 MILLION JOB LOSSES, $455 BILLION REQUEST
Destroyed: The restaurant industry says shuttered outlets like this Portland cafe means losing half its 15.6 million jobs
A U.S. restaurant trade group on Wednesday asked the White House and Congressional leaders for a $455 billion aid package, saying that the industry could shed nearly half of its 15.6 million jobs and at least a quarter of its annual sales because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The group, the Washington, D.C.-based National Restaurant Association, said restaurants could take a $225 billion sales hit in the next three months, a quarter of their projected total sales of $899 billion.
TRAVEL AND HOTEL INDUSTRY: WE NEED $250 BILLION TO DEAL WITH CRISIS
American hotel and travel industry executives met with Trump on Tuesday to discuss a potential $250 billion aid package, as thousands of hotel workers began furloughs due to the fast-spreading coronavirus.
The requested package would consist of $150 billion in direct aid for the hotel sector and $100 billion for related travel companies, including convention businesses, industry executives said on a call after the meeting with Trump, who made his fortune in real estate and hotels.
TOWN AND CITIES NEED $250 BILLION IN AID TO DEAL WITH CRISIS
The U.S. Conference of Mayors has asked Congress for $250 billion in localized aid to help cities stop the spread of the coronavirus, including through resources for public health departments, supporting small businesses and addressing food insecurity, according to a statement on their website.
In peril: The giant manufacturer says it needs the government to guarantee liquidity
BIGGEST SINGLE CORPORATE REQUEST: BOEING SAYS $60 BILLION TO STAY AFLOAT
Boeing Co on Tuesday called for a $60 billion bailout in access to public and private liquidity, including loan guarantees, for the struggling U.S. aerospace manufacturing industry, which faces huge losses from the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. planemaker has told lawmakers it needs significant government support to meet liquidity needs and it cannot raise that in current market conditions, people briefed on the matter said.
WE NEED $50 BILLION NOW: AIRLINE INDUSTRY ‘NEEDS GRANTS AND LOANS’
Major U.S. airlines sought a government bailout of more than $50 billion in the wake of the steep falloff in U.S. travel demand sparked by the coronavirus outbreak.
Airlines for America, the trade group representing American Airlines, United Airlines Inc, Delta Air Lines Inc, Southwest Airlines Co and others, said the industry needs $25 billion in grants, $25 billion in loans and significant tax relief to survive.
They also seek tax relief that could be worth tens of billions of dollars through the end of at least 2021.
They also seek a package of $8 billion, equally divided in grants and loans for cargo carriers.
OUR 460 CASINOS NEED $18 BILLION SAY NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES
Closed: The Akwesasne Mohawk Casino operated by the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe in Hogansburg, New York is one of 460 which tribes say need bailed out
The Native American gaming industry on Tuesday requested $18 billion in U.S. federal aid as it shut casinos that are the sole source of commercial revenue for dozens of tribes in a bid to slow the coronavirus epidemic.
Tribal governments will be unable to provide health and education services and will default on loans unless they get federal support to make up for lost casino money, the National Indian Gaming Association said in a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The United States’ roughly 460 Indian casinos are in the process of closing given the threat of coronavirus to tribal members and many non-Native American employees.
EMPTY AIRPORTS WANT $10 BILLION TO DEAL WITH COLLAPSE IN TRAFFIC
U.S. airports are seeking $10 billion in U.S. government assistance to help offset losses incurred by the sharp drop in travel due to coronavirus, two people briefed on the matter said.
WE NEED $1 BILLION TO KEEP THE TRAINS RUNNING WARNS AMTRAK
Off the rails: Amtrak says the passenger railroad needs $1 billion make up for collapsing bookings
U.S. railroad Amtrak said on Monday that the passenger rail service and its state partners need $1 billion in government assistance after a dramatic decline in travel because of the coronavirus outbreak. Amtrak said bookings had plunged 50% since the outbreak.
EVEN THE WHISKEY INDUSTRY IS ASKING FOR AID
The Tennessee Distillers Guild on Tuesday asked the state’s governor and legislature for relief to offset the blow from suspending tours, cancelling large events and ceasing production due to the coronavirus, the guild said in a statement on their website.
The guild asked for immediate temporary relief for distilling, brewing and hospitality industries from payroll, gallonage and liquor by the drink taxes, though it did not specify how much aid it sought.