The White House is aiming to craft a stimulus package that may include direct payments to Americans in the second or third week of July, chief of staff Mark Meadows says.
Administration officials—led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin—will work on the package in the “second or third week of July … to address what the real needs are,” Meadows told reporters on July 6.
“This will be all about the American worker.”
The administration and President Donald Trump have been “very supportive of another stimulus check,” Meadows noted. But Trump wants to “make sure the take-home check is greater with a payroll tax deduction.”
Congress approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Trump signed it into law in March, allowing for direct payments of up to $1,200 to be sent out to Americans, an extra $600 in weekly unemployment insurance payments, and loans to small businesses.
The latest stimulus package will have to “provide incentives for American manufacturing to be brought back from abroad,” Meadows said.
The House and Senate, meanwhile, went on recess last week and aren’t expected to return until July 20. Top Republicans suggested that the stimulus package will be worked on in the aftermath of the recess, while the extra $600 per week is expected to expire at the end of the month.
Trump, his advisers, and GOP leaders expressed that they have no appetite to extend the extra payments, saying they create a disincentive for Americans to return to work.
Meadows criticized Congress for taking a “three-week vacation” in the midst of an economic downturn and the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
His comments come on the heels of a Columbia University study (pdf) that estimated that the United States’ poverty level would have jumped to roughly 16 percent if the $1,200 checks weren’t distributed.
“If high unemployment rates persist beyond July 2020, additional income support will likely be needed to prevent subsequent increases in poverty and hardship,” the paper stated.
Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said on July 5 he doesn’t believe the extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits are needed.
“It was a really important thing to do as we were shutting our economy down. Americans across the country were basically being told, and we needed to take measures, but they were basically being told, you can’t go to work right now. … I don’t think we need that $600 benefit going forward,” Scalia said on “Fox News Sunday.”
In some states, the additional unemployment benefits are slated to end several days earlier, coming on the Saturday or Sunday before July 31.