Republicans Back Stimulus Package With Direct Payments

December 9, 2020 Updated: December 9, 2020

Republican leaders in Congress on Tuesday said they back a COVID-19 relief package from the White House that includes $600 direct payments.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would support a $916 billion package put forth by President Donald Trump’s top negotiator.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement that he presented the package to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). It includes “money for state and local governments,” as well as “robust liability protection for businesses, schools, and universities,” according to Mnuchin, who made no mention of checks to Americans.

McCarthy told The Associated Press that the new deal would send $600 direct payments to individuals and $1,200 payments to couples, mirroring the March stimulus that sent most Americans $1,200 checks and couples twice that amount.

The White House and McCarthy didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) rejected the new White House proposal. The pair said in a joint statement that the relief package was inadequate and obstructs bipartisan talks currently underway over another compromise.

“While it is progress that Leader McConnell has signed off on a $916 billion offer that is based off of the bipartisan framework, the president’s proposal must not be allowed to obstruct the bipartisan Congressional talks that are underway,” Pelosi and Schumer said. “Members of the House and Senate have been engaged in good-faith negotiations and continue to make progress. The bipartisan talks are the best hope for a bipartisan solution.”

“The president’s proposal starts by cutting the unemployment insurance proposal being discussed by bipartisan members of the House and Senate from $180 billion to $40 billion. That is unacceptable,” they added.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) holds a weekly press conference at the Capitol in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020. (Liz Lynch/Getty Images)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), accompanied by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) speak to reporters following a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows as they continue to negotiate a CCP virus relief package on Capitol Hill in Washington on Aug. 7, 2020. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers earlier this month put forth a $900 billion package. Democrat leaders soon said they backed the proposal’s framework. That bill didn’t appear to have direct payments to Americans.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

Negotiations on a second major COVID-19 relief package have been continuing for months, with slow progress toward a package but no clarity on when or if a final compromise will be reached by the end of the year.

Mnuchin said on Dec. 2 that Trump backs the COVID-19 relief package put together by McConnell, the top Republican in Congress.

“The president will sign the McConnell proposal that he put forward yesterday and we look forward to making progress on that,” Mnuchin told reporters in Washington.

That package did not include direct payments.

Larry Kudlow, one of Trump’s top economic advisers, said the bipartisan proposal was a step in the right direction.

Ultimately, he told reporters outside the White House, Trump favors a package that would unlock funds already appropriated that will expire at the end of the year if authorization isn’t given for their repurposing.

McConnell said he wanted a package that the president would favor because “you have to have a presidential signature.”

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.