No. 2 Republican Senator Open to CARES Act-Type Checks

This is my stimulus update for Wednesday, July 22.

Yesterday’s “Messy” Republican Lunch

So for the past few days we’ve been talking about not so much the rift between Republicans and Democrats regarding the next stimulus relief bill because that’s a given, the focus right now is the rift between Congressional Republicans and the White House with respect to the next stimulus relief bill particularly over Trump’s desire to include a payroll tax cut in the bill.

I talked about this a few days ago and it looks like the issue still isn’t resolved.

Yesterday there was a lunch in D.C. that had Congressional Republicans on one side and the White House stimulus negotiating team on the other side, this team consisting of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as well as Mark Meadows, Trump’s Chief of Staff.

According to Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, Mnuchin and Meadows didn’t have a lot to say but nevertheless Senator Hawley said that, “There’s a robust difference of opinion,” presumably speaking of a difference of opinion between the White House and Senate Republicans.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky stormed out of the lunch ahead of schedule and angrily told reporters that he’s disgusted that his Republican compatriots are considering yet another 13-figure bill.  He called their behavior “insane” and “an abomination.”

Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri said that the lunch was “messy” and that “about 15 different members wanted to make a point, and they made them.”

So it sounds like the lunch yesterday, the purpose of which was to find an agreement between the White House and Republican Senators in terms of the next stimulus bill sounds like it didn’t go so well.

Schumer and Pelosi on Republican Negotiations

But Republican Senators weren’t the only ones that Mnuchin and Meadows spoke with yesterday, they also had a meeting with House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as you know, both Democrats.

Schumer said, “We’re glad they came to see us, we’re glad they outlined some very broad concepts, but they’re not close to getting ready to negotiate.”

Pelosi was a bit more terse. Pelosi said, “I think their delay is their disarray.”

Now, despite all this, despite not even having the support of his same-party Senate and not being ready to negotiate according to Congressional Democrats, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin still said, “We want to get something done before the unemployment insurance expires.”

It’s Just Ridiculous

The way this is going, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, and frankly I’m shocked that we’re coming down to the last bit of July here, and everybody’s known that the FPUC $600 weekly stops at the end of July, everybody’s known that the House has a scheduled recess beginning August 1, everybody’s known that the Senate has a scheduled recess beginning August 8, and yet here we are on July 22, with Republicans having had ample time, the last two months to at least see eye-to-eye on things, I know they were saying they had to “wait and see,” but where was the planning here?

Why couldn’t they have spent the past couple months saying, “OK, well let’s map out three scenarios, one things are really bad, two things are so-, and three things are better than expected, and if it’s Scenario One, OK, we’re gonna pull all the punches, payroll tax cut, unemployment stimulus for everybody, but you know if it’s Scenario Three then this is what we’re going to do,” why are they still hashing out these details and not making much progress among themselves, between the Republican White House and the Republican Senate, during what is probably the biggest crisis this country has faced since World War 2.

The stalling just makes no sense to me, frankly.  Apart from public health, this should be our government’s number one priority right now.

Nevertheless, McConnell did say yesterday that he would be releasing the bill in the next few days, I hope that’s sooner as in today or tomorrow rather than Friday.

#2 Republican on Stimulus Checks

With respect to stimulus checks in particular, the number two Republican in the Senate, John Thune said yesterday, “If it’s a choice between doing checks and payroll tax cut, I think it’s pretty clear the checks actually have a more direct benefit to the economy.”

But that’s not all, Thune also said yesterday, “If the parameters stayed the same, we could do it really quickly.”

He’s saying that if the parameters for stimulus checks are the exact same as last time, we could send them out fast.

And he’s the #2 Republican in the Senate, I have to believe that McConnell is speaking very closely with him regarding the next stimulus bills and stimulus checks in particular, so that $40,000 threshold or some lower threshold than the $75,000 for individuals in the CARES Act, that’s not set in stone by any means otherwise Senator Thune wouldn’t say the thing he said yesterday, and we know that Democrats probably wouldn’t want to lower the income threshold in the next round of stimulus checks. Anyway, that would be another battle to fight by Republicans who are on a time crunch.

That is my stimulus check update for today, to sum it up, good news is that at least the #2 Senate Republican is open to just issuing another round of checks identical to the CARES Act, I know that would leave some folks behind like adult dependents, etc., but the bad news is that no one can agree on anything, not even the Republican White House and the Republican Senate.

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