Trump favors direct payments to Americans as Senate weighs coronavirus aid bill

The administration of US President Donald Trump pushed lawmakers to send money directly to Americans to counter the economic toll of the coronavirus epidemic, as the Senate weighed in on a multi-billion dollar emergency bill adopted by the House of Representatives.

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin was about to meet with Senate Republicans to discuss a plan to send checks to crisis-hit Americans, and Trump told reporters that payments could amount to 1000 dollars.

The tone of the Republican President on the coronavirus pandemic has changed significantly in recent days. After initially minimizing the threat of a rapidly spreading epidemic in the United States, killing at least 95 people, his administration began to press for urgent action to stem the economic toll of the disease.

The administration was talking about a new $ 850 billion stimulus package, an American official said on condition of anonymity.

It would be the third coronavirus aid plan to be reviewed by Congress this month. Trump signed the first $ 8.3 billion package to fight the coronavirus on March 6.

Over the weekend, the House passed a second measure that would require paid sick leave for certain workers and increase unemployment benefits, among other measures, including almost $ 1 billion more to help feed workers. children, the elderly confined to the house and others.

McConnell: “impatient” to approve House measure

The majority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, said his chamber was “impatient” to approve the measure of the House, a decision which could take place on Tuesday.

“The Senate will not adjourn until we take important and bold new steps beyond what the House has adopted,” said McConnell in the Senate.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, however, warned that cutting the payroll tax – one of Trump’s favorite proposals – “may be premature and the wrong answer” to tackle the impact of the coronavirus on the ‘economy. Even some Senate Republicans were not happy to cut payroll taxes.

Members of both political parties were talking about significant additional funds to help mitigate the impact of the rapidly spreading disease. The epidemic has killed more than 7,500 people around the world, massively disrupted daily life across the country and hammered the American stock market that Trump has long presented as a barometer of his administration’s performance.

Trump and Mnuchin discuss third aid bill

An administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday morning that the White House wanted $ 500 billion in payroll tax cuts, a $ 50 billion bailout for airlines struggling with the falling demand and $ 250 billion for small business loans.

But when Trump and Mnuchin spoke at noon, their accent had changed; the two men noted that reducing payroll taxes would take longer.

Schumer spoke of spending $ 750 billion on things like expanding unemployment insurance, strengthening the Medicaid health care program for the poor, and funding emergency child care for workers in the health.

In the House, President Nancy Pelosi released a statement outlining what she wanted to see in a third aid package on coronaviruses, including refundable tax credits for the self-employed and ensuring that sick workers can get long-term leave if necessary.

“During the negotiations, the Democratic House will continue to make the administration understand that any emergency response plan must put families first, before considering any assistance to American businesses,” said Pelosi.

Senator Kevin Cramer, a Republican ally of Trump, has expressed concerns about the size of the third phase bill, which he says could take days or even weeks in the Senate to deliberate.

Republican Senator Mike Braun, another White House ally, said the first priority should be to help small businesses hit by the epidemic through the unemployment insurance system rather than through credit tax and sick leave. He said larger stimulus issues, including lower payroll taxes, could wait.

“I don’t think it is wise to spend our money on so-called incentives, such as lower payroll taxes. I think it is a good idea to spend money to stabilize the economy,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican. “The economy is not the problem, it is the disease that is the problem. When we retain the disease, the economy will, in my opinion, bounce back probably quickly.”

(REUTERS)