Senate Republicans appear to be divided on whether to send more direct stimulus payments to Americans, even though President Donald Trump this week expressed support for the measure.
“I wasn’t supportive of the first round. I don’t think I’d be supportive of the second,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told reporters. “This is not a classic recession that requires financial stimulus.”
Trump said on Monday that he supports sending out payments larger than $1,200—the maximum amount allotted under the last major stimulus package.
“I support actually larger numbers than the Democrats, but it’s got to be done properly,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business. “I want the money getting to people to be larger so they can spend it. I want the money to get there quickly and in a non-complicated fashion,” he added.
House Democrats, meanwhile, passed a $3 trillion stimulus package that would send out $1,200 payments to eligible Americans and children. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) endorsed the measure and on Thursday called on GOP senators to “quickly provide additional federal fiscal relief,” while calling on them to “finally work with Democrats.”
But Majority Whip Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said Republicans don’t see eye-to-eye on sending direct payments to Americans when he was asked about Trump’s willingness to support the measure.
“About direct payments or some of the checks — that’s something he’s talked about, and some of our members are interested in that as well. There are some of our members who aren’t interested in that, so we’ll see where that goes,” he said. Republicans will still need to agree “on a number” and other components.
Senators on Thursday left for a two-week recess that ends on July 20. After that, they are expected to debate on the stimulus package.
It comes as the extra $600 per week unemployment boost, which was included in March’s CARES Act, is slated to expire at the end of July. At the same time, the United States added 4.8 million jobs in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Thursday, while the unemployment rate fell to around 11 percent.
Trump and other Republicans said the measure created a disincentive for people receiving unemployment insurance to return to work.
“You’d make more money if you don’t go to work,” Trump said of the measure, “that’s not what [this] country is all about.”
According to the Treasury Department, more than 160 million Americans received payments authorized by the CARES Act.