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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he is in favor of a second round of direct stimulus payments to Americans after months of uncertainty within about the next coronavirus-relief bill.
“Speaking of building on what worked in the CARES Act, we want another round of direct payments, direct payments to help American families keep driving our national comeback,” McConnell said in a floor speech.
The massive $2.2 trillion coronavirus-relief package passed by Congress in March provided funds for a one-time $1,200 check for Americans who make $75,000 or less a year, with smaller payment for those who make more than that but less than $99,000 a year. McConnell said the second round of payments could only apply to Americans who make $40,000 or less a year.
The Trump administration has called for a second round of payments since March but in recent weeks has put more emphasis on payroll-tax cuts for workers.
The fifth coronavirus stimulus package, for which Republicans have proposed a $1 trillion price tag, will also include more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, which aims to help small businesses with fewer than 500 employees that are struggling during the pandemic to meet payroll without furloughing or laying off employees.
“With a majority of businesses expected to exhaust their initial paycheck protection funding this summer, we’ll also be proposing a targeted second round of PPP, with a special eye toward hard-hit businesses,” McConnell said.
Trump said Monday that “good things” were planned for the upcoming Republican coronavirus aid bill and assured that “we’ve made a lot of progress.”
The package is also expected to provide $75 billion to help schools reopen, five years of liability protections against lawsuits relating to the coronavirus, and $25 billion more for virus testing and the Centers for Disease Control, a proposal to which the administration voiced objections.
“We shouldn’t lightly add more to the national debt, but I’m predicting that we will have one more rescue package, which we’ll begin to debate and discuss next week,” McConnell said last week at a press conference in Kentucky.
The next round of economic aid comes as many southern and western states are seeing their coronavirus cases and deaths spike, causing governors in several states to reimpose restrictions on businesses, houses of worship, and group events that were allowed to resume operations in recent weeks.