Senate Republicans and the Trump administration say they have reached a broad consensus on the next COVID-19 relief bill, including a new round of direct stimulus checks to Americans and $105 billion for schools.
A group of senators and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters Wednesday night they have “a fundamental agreement” on their version of the bill, which will be introduced Thursday as a series of measures rather than in a single bill.
“We’ll have one appropriations bill, we’ll have several authorization bills that explain in more detail how that appropriated money will be spent, and obviously there will be a bill that will talk about any money that is distributed in direct payments or any other way,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., chair of the Senate rules committee.
The Senate bill will be a starting point for negotiations with the Democratic-led House, which in May passed a $3 trillion bill that seeks to extend a $600 per week increase for unemployment benefits — a measure mostly opposed by Republican senators. Both sides have said they want a deal signed before they break for August recess.
While cautioning that the proposal is still fluid due to disagreements among GOP lawmakers and the White House, senators said late Wednesday the bill will likely have a price tag of around $1 trillion.
Mnuchin said the bill it will include another stimulus payment for many Americans, but it’s not yet clear what the qualifying criteria will be. Most Americans received at least $1,200 during the first round of stimulus.
Under the agreement, schools would get $105 billion, including $70 billion for K-12 schools, $30 billion for colleges and $5 billion for governors to give to either. About half of the K-12 funding will be contingent on whether schools have fully reopened during the pandemic.
Still undecided, however, is whether or how to extend enhanced unemployment benefits, which expire next week. Deep divisions remain within the Republican caucus on the issue, which has given unemployed an additional $600 per week.
One of President Donald Trump’s top priorities, a payroll tax cut, is also unclear, GOP leaders said.
Senate finance committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said it might be not be possible to have a new round of stimulus and a payroll tax cut and remain within a $1 trillion spending limit.
“I don’t think you can fit them both in,” he said.
Copyright 2020 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.