Senate Majority Leader lays out plan for next Covid-19 stimulus bill
CNBC's Ylan Mui reports on the latest remarks from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the latest round of stimulus. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://cnb.cx/2NGeIvi
The top Democrat and Republican in the House cast doubt Tuesday on whether Congress can pass a coronavirus relief bill in time to avoid disrupting a key financial lifeline.
“I envision that this bill doesn’t get done by the end of July,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” He said he expects Congress to approve legislation “probably in the first week of August.”
If lawmakers cannot pass a plan by the end of the month, a $600 per week federal unemployment insurance benefit buoying millions of Americans will at least temporarily expire. The GOP wants to change the policy or reduce the sum, while Democrats hope to extend the assistance as the unemployment rate stands above 11%.
Lawmakers are working to iron out a range of differences on how best to structure the bill as the pandemic spreads unabated in the United States. Congress returned to Washington for discussions on the legislation this week as Covid-19 cases and deaths climb across the country, leading states including McCarthy’s own to either pause or roll back their economic reopening plans.
On a call with House Democrats on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she hopes the parties “can resolve our differences and have a bill by the end of next week,” according to a source on the call. The end of next week is July 31, and Congress would still need to vote on the legislation even if it can write the bill by the end of the month.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin separately told reporters on Tuesday that he hopes to strike a deal on legislation by the end of next week.
Democrats have called for a sprawling package to offer additional aid to jobless workers, send another direct payment to individuals, offer hazard pay to essential workers, give aid to state and local governments facing budget crunches and offer assistance to renters and homeowners as moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures start to expire.
Republicans, meanwhile, have previewed a proposal heavy on tax incentives or bonuses that aim to encourage people to return to work and school, along with broad liability protections for businesses and doctors during the pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters Tuesday that he plans to “introduce a bill in the next few days that is a starting place” for talks with Democrats, and has support from most of the GOP caucus.
Here are some provisions of the Republican proposal McConnell outlined during public appearances Tuesday:
“Several specific incentives” to encourage companies to hire and retain workers (he did not address how the GOP would specifically handle the unemployment benefit expiration)
$105 billion to reopen schools
“A targeted second round” of the Paycheck Protection Program “with a special eye toward hard-hit businesses”
“Another round of direct payments” (he did not specify how widely Republicans want to send checks)
Funding for vaccine development, testing and hospitals
Tax incentives to help companies afford personal protective equipment and other measures need to safely operate
McCarthy and McConnell met with President Donald Trump, Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Monday, and talks will continue on Tuesday. Mnuchin and Meadows attended the Senate GOP policy lunch, then metwith Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer later in the afternoon. Trump, during a press briefing Tuesday, expressed optimism that a deal would be finished.
Before Republicans strike an agreement with Democrats, they need to find a consensus within their own party. Trump has insisted on a payroll tax holiday — a proposal usually met with skepticism on Capitol Hill — and opposed new federal funding for coronavirus testing, which GOP congressional leaders support.
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