McConnell Drops Phase-Three Coronavirus Relief Plan, Includes Cash Payments for Americans

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (File photo: Mike Theiler/Reuters)

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and Senate Republicans released the text for their massive phase-three coronavirus relief package Thursday, outlining a trillion-dollar plan that includes direct payments of $1,200 per person and $2,400 for couples to help offset economic losses amid the growing pandemic.

McConnell said the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security Act” is focused on “four urgent priorities”: directly assisting Americans, providing relief for small businesses, stabilizing the economy, and supporting America’s healthcare professionals and patients during the outbreak.

“The Senate is not going anywhere until we act. Senate Republicans are here and ready to work with our Democratic colleagues and the Administration to get results as soon as possible. Let’s get this done for the country,” McConnell tweeted to announce the bill.

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Earlier Thursday, he said in a speech on the Senate floor that “Senate Republicans want to put cash in the hands of the American people.

McConnell and the White House warmed to the idea of cash payments after proposals from Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) — who called for monthly payments to working families below a certain income bracket — and Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and Mitt Romney (R., Utah), who both proposed direct cash payments of a fixed amount.

“Americans need cash now and the president wants to get cash now,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who recently has been involved heavily in negotiations on the Hill, said at a White House press conference on Tuesday.

“We’re going to get out of this quickly,” Mnuchin told FOX Business‘ Maria Bartiromo on Thursday. He revealed the goal was to get the money out in three weeks, with another round of checks coming in six weeks if the crisis is still ongoing.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) had been opposed to the measure, but told reporters he could support “a check as a gap-filler.”

The bill reveals that the size of the checks, which will be based on 2018 tax returns, gradually diminishes for those earning more than $75,000, and phase out completely for those earning over $99,000.

Individuals with no federal income tax liability, would see smaller benefits of a minimum of $600 for individuals and $1,200 for married couples, which the Senate Finance Committee said “ensures relief gets to low-income seniors and disabled veterans.”

McConnell’s plan also creates $208 billion in loans and loan guarantees to at-risk industries, including $50 billion for commercial airlines and $8 billion for air cargo carriers, as well as $150 billion for other eligible businesses.

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