Stimulus Checks: GOP Senators Dragging Support of Second Round of Payments

The U.S. Senate began its two-week July 4 recess on Friday without Republicans proposing a new coronavirus stimulus package with a second stimulus check for Americans. While Senate Democrats have urged Republicans to provide more relief for Americans, some on the other side of the aisle are still not sure one is even needed. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has continued to show support for another check, even hinting at one "larger" than the $1,200 economic impact payment included in the CARES Act.

Before heading home, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin told reporters he did not support the first checks and is not supporting a second, reports NBC News. "This is not a classic recession that requires financial stimulus," Johnson said. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the number two GOP senator, said they still have to agree "on a number."

"About direct payments or some of the checks — that’s something he's talked about, and some of our members are interested in that as well," Thune said when asked about Trump's recent comments on a stimulus check. "There are some of our members who aren’t interested in that, so we'll see where that goes." Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said the future of direct stimulus checks will "depend on how the economy is doing" and cited the "great unemployment numbers" for June.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the next stimulus package will focus on "kid, jobs and health care." Like Cassidy and other Republicans, McConnell said any bill that passes the Senate will include protections "for everyone… everybody who interacted with this pandemic." He also said it was "extremely important" to help those who lost their jobs. McConnell did not specifically mention another stimulus check though.

"If there is another bill, it will be targeted," Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said. "Hopefully, we'll learn from our first three bills in terms of what works and what doesn't. The subtext, or the undercurrent, here, at least on my side of the aisle, is the fact that we owe $25 trillion and climbing."

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During a Fox Business interview Wednesday, Trump said he supports "larger numbers than the Democrats, but it's got to be done properly," adding that he wants people to get a "larger" payment "so they can spend it. I want the money to get there quickly and in a non-complicated fashion." Trump also said that a new stimulus package should include a "great incentive to work," referencing the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit in the CARES Act. The measure expires on July 31 and Republicans have criticized it. Even Trump's own economic advisor Larry Kudlow said last month it was a "disincentive" and suggested the government was "paying people not to work."

In May, House Democrats passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which included another stimulus check for at least $1,200 to qualifying Americans. Senate Republicans have dismissed that bill, and Senate Democrats have called on their colleagues to work on a new package. "Today’s jobs report may just be a slight peak in a much larger valley, and unless President Trump demonstrates real leadership in fighting the health crisis and Senate Republicans get off their hands and finally work with Democrats to quickly provide additional federal fiscal relief, the pain America is experiencing will only worsen," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday.