Second stimulus: What has to happen for $1,200 checks to be approved

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The White House and Senate Republicans couldn’t reach an agreement Thursday to unveil a coronavirus aid package set to include another round of direct payments to Americans.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had hoped to present his legislative package for negotiations to begin, but roadblocks kept that from happening.

At issue in the expected $1 trillion GOP aid plan remains how to handle expiring unemployment benefits for some 30 million Americans, the location of the Federal Bureau of Investigation building in downtown Washington, and other issues.

Not at issue: Direct payments to Americans.

President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and McConnell were all in agreement that there should be another round of $1,200 direct payments to most Americans at a cost approaching $300 billion. And though roadblocks remain in approving McConnell’s plan, there appears to be little opposition to this portion of the package.

In a speech Thursday, McConnell confirmed his proposal would include checks along with aid for schools, money for testing, changes to unemployment assistance rules, more money for small businesses, and a liability shield to protect businesses and schools from coronavirus-related lawsuits, according to The Washington Post.

McConnell’s proposal, likely called CARES II, is expected to be rolled out Monday, according to our Washington D.C. correspondent Raquel Martin.

In addition to Trump and GOP senators being at odds over priorities, Democrats argue that the Republican proposals won’t be enough to stem the health crisis, reopen schools and provide the amount of needed aid to jobless Americans.

Some Republicans aren’t excited about the $1 trillion price tag.

“I’m not going to vote for it if it’s just a bunch of spending on random issues for special interests. I’m not going to vote for bailouts … . If it’s not focused on jobs and actually getting people back to work, I’m not voting for it,” Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, also a Republican, says she’s more flexible.

“I think (the dollar figure) is something that we should always be concerned about as well, but then we also have to look at life and safety,” Ernst said.

Early Thursday, we learned the White House dropped a bid to cut Social Security payroll taxes, ceding to opposition to the idea among top Senate allies.

“It won’t be in the base bill,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking on CNBC about the payroll tax cut.

House Democrats previously pushed out the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion bill that included $275 billion for testing and healthcare worker hazard pay, and $1 trillion for state and local governments. It was approved in May and included another round of $1,200 checks to American adults and children. Republicans argued that the price tag was far too high and immediately began pushing for their own plan.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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