Stimulus Checks: Senate 'Not Quite Ready' for Second Payment, Mitch McConnell Says

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate is still "not quite ready" to roll out what the next coronavirus relief package will look like, but the Kentucky Republican told Fox News Thursday it is coming in the future. The package will likely not come together until next month though, as Senators left Washington for a Memorial Day recess. The House of Representatives did pass a relief package on May 15, but McConnell has called that a "$3 trillion left-wing wish list."

McConnell has not been in a rush to pass any new legislation that would include another stimulus check for American taxpayers. The $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed in March and "only about half of that money has gone out yet," McConnell told Fox News' Martha MacCallum. McConnell said there is a "high likelihood" of another relief package, but said Washington needs "to be able to measure the impact of what we've already done, what we did right, what we did wrong [and] correct that."

Congress has to "work smart," according to McConnell, by helping "the people who are desperately in need, try to save as many jobs as possible and begin to open up the states, which are decisions by the governors that are going on all over America now and get this economy growing again." Even though almost 39 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past nine weeks, McConnell said a new relief package could not include enhanced unemployment benefits. The $600 per week federal unemployment insurance would be extended through the end of 2020 under the House's bill, notes The Hill.

"The problem was by paying people more not to work than to work, it's making it difficult to get people back to work," he said, adding that it was "extremely important" to continue unemployment insurance. "But to pay people more not to work than to work doesn't encourage resuming your job," McConnell told MacCallum. "And that will end in July. And we think that in order to create jobs, we need to incentivize people to go back to work, not encourage them to stay home."

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McConnnell said there would be "no space" between President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans when the next bill is put together. On Wednesday, he met with Trump to say tell him that the next bill cannot be more than $1 trillion, far smaller than what House Democrats passed, sources told Axios. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was in the meeting and believed it would be best to wait to see the full impact of the CARES Act before working on another bill to understand the remaining issues.

The House's Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act included a second stimulus payment of $1,200 for eligible Americans and up to $6,000 per household. The CARES Act, passed in late March, included a one-time $1,200 payment, which the IRS began sending out in mid-April. Even before the HEROES bill narrowly passed the House, Trump and Senate Republicans made it clear it was "dead on arrival" and would not become law.