We should hear more about the GOP’s coronavirus stimulus proposal today as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is set to release it. The proposal will include a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks and other provisions, some of which have yet to be announced.
Still barriers to the coronavirus stimulus proposal
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows visited the Capitol to work on the text of the coronavirus stimulus proposal with staff members. According to Fox News, their appearance at the Capitol is meant to show Republicans who aren't on board with the proposal that President Donald Trump supports it — in addition to McConnell.
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Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, told Fox News over the weekend that half of Republicans will vote against the coronavirus stimulus proposal. If that turns out to be true, then lawmakers are much further away from having an agreement than it appears right now.
The GOP's announcement that it has a coronavirus stimulus proposal to vote on has been seen as a major milestone on the way to getting more stimulus checks and other provisions passed. However, if Republicans can't even agree with their own party, it will be back to the drawing board again.
That further reduces the chances of lawmakers from both parties and both houses of Congress being able to get something passed before they leave for their August recess.
What will be in the coronavirus stimulus proposal?
McConnell's coronavirus stimulus proposal includes a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks for those earning up to $75,000. The payments phase out after that level. Couples will receive $2,400 if they earn up to $150,000. Lawmakers said the provision is the same as it was in the CARES Act, which means the bill should also include $500 payments per child.
The stimulus package also includes an extension of the extra federal unemployment benefits that expire at the end of the month. However, while the expiring benefit sends an extra $600 in weekly payments to jobless Americans, the extension substantially reduces the extra mount.
It's unclear just how much that extra amount is in the GOP's coronavirus stimulus proposal. Republicans have been concerned because the extra $600 in weekly benefits means most people are receiving more on unemployment than they were on the job, creating a disincentive to return to work.
The stimulus package also includes tens of billions of dollars for K-12 schools and universities and funds for additional COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. The bill comes with a price tag of $1.3 trillion, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said is "not enough."
Negotiations with Democrats expected to begin today
If McConnell releases the final version of his coronavirus stimulus proposal today, then negotiations with Senate Democrats should begin. However, they will be complicated by the fact that Republicans themselves aren't even in full agreement with the package that's being presented.
Lawmakers are on a tight timeline because the House of Representatives leaves for its August recess at the end of the week. The Senate leaves a week later. The big question now is whether lawmakers from both parties will be able to set aside their differences and get more aid passed for the American people.
We do know that McConnell plans to reveal his proposal in several pieces, with each provision being a separate piece. Whether that will complicate matters even further remains to be seen. It is possible that it will make it easier to pass the provisions that have bipartisan agreement, like a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks.
However, it could make things complicated because it means multiple votes are required. If the bill passes both houses of Congress by the end of next week, the second round of coronavirus stimulus checks could be sent out by mid to late August.