Senate Republicans are preparing another coronavirus stimulus package, which could include a second stimulus check for Americans. The senators are also planning to add more funding for testing and contact tracing, but President Donald Trump's administration is reportedly trying to block that part of the bill. Sources involved in the negotiations between the White House and GOP Senators told the Washington Post the administration also wants to cut billions of dollars earmarked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as money for the Pentagon and State Department to use in its efforts to combat the pandemic domestically and abroad.
The Trump administration's stance on these issues has "angered" some of the senators, officials told the Post. Some politicians are trying to convince the administration to change its mind to keep the money in the stimulus package. The sources said the talks are still "fluid, and the numbers are in flux." One source said Senate Republicans were planning to set $25 million aside for states to conduct testing and contact tracing. Some White House officials want this cut completely, while others said there is still unspent billions set aside for testing. The senators are also hoping to include $10 billion for the CDC, but the administration wants this cut as well.
In recent weeks, Trump has been critical of testing, even as coronavirus cases and deaths continue climbing across the country. In June, Trump said the increase in cases was due to more testing being available. "If we stop testing right now, we'd have very few cases, if any," he said at the White House, notes The Hill. In a tweet, he called testing a "double-edged sword," adding that it "makes us look bad but good to have!!" According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 3.6 million Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus and over 139,900 Americans have died from COVID-19.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hoping to present the new stimulus package next week, when the Senate returns from its two-week July 4 break. McConnell has said the package would cost $1 trillion, about a third of what the HEROES Act House Democrats passed in May. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has argued that $1 trillion would not be enough to address more needs from the coronavirus pandemic.
The new coronavirus bill will likely be the last before the November elections. Republicans have expressed interest in a second stimulus check sent to Americans directly, although what that will entail is still up in the air. McConnell said earlier this month, the check could target low-income Americans making $40,000 a year or less. However, a source told Bloomberg this week that a "cap at that level is not seen as likely."