- The White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said on Monday that the White House could support another round of stimulus checks for Americans.
- He also floated other measures President Donald Trump supported, such as a payroll-tax cut.
- Republicans in Congress and the White House are split on whether to back a second round of direct payments.
- Democrats have said they support sending more $US1,200 stimulus checks.
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Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, said on Monday morning that the White House could get on board with another round of direct payments to Americans, given President Donald Trump’s support of the measure.
In remarks to reporters, Meadows also opened the door for other proposals the president has supported, such as a reduction of payroll taxes, to be included in another economic relief package set to be debated later this month.
“I think the president’s been very clear that he’s supportive of another stimulus check,” Meadows said. “And yet at the same time, we want to make sure that we’re addressing things in a real, systemic way, whether that is making sure that the take-home check for every American is greater with a payroll-tax deduction, whether it’s making sure that we provide incentives for American manufacturing to be brought back from abroad.”
The remarks reflected the debate among Republicans and the White House on another round of stimulus checks for Americans. Trump has reportedly told aides he supports such a plan, but congressional Republicans are split on it.
In a Fox Business interview on Wednesday, the president appeared to approve of additional direct payments to Americans.
“I do. I support it. But it has to be done properly,” Trump said when asked about his position. “And I support actually larger numbers than the Democrats. But it’s got to be done properly.”
He then discussed GOP concerns about unemployment benefits disincentivizing work, making it unclear exactly what type of federal aid Trump would support for individuals.
Top White House officials have been divided on the measure. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has expressed support for sending a second round of direct payments, while Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said stimulus checks could go to people who’ve lost their jobs.
The first round of payments under the Cares Act, enacted in March, went to 150 million US households.
Meadows said Mnuchin would lead the negotiations on behalf of Republicans, a similar dynamic that led to deals with Democrats on four bipartisan relief bills early in the coronavirus pandemic.
The largest of those, the $US2 trillion Cares Act, sent $US1,200 stimulus checks to many Americans, created a $US600 federal supplement to unemployment benefits, and sent emergency funds to healthcare systems and state governments. It also created the Paycheck Protection Program to aid small businesses.
Since March, many Republicans have urged a wait-and-see approach before passing another large economic relief bill to pump more cash into the economy. Lawmakers from both parties have authorised over $US3 trillion in federal spending so far.
Economists have said that the unemployment rate will remain high for many months and that lawmakers shouldn’t yank federal aid before the economy is healthier. Democrats have expressed support for sending a second round of stimulus checks and keeping enhanced unemployment aid in place through early next year.
The latest jobs report, released on Thursday, said that the economy added 4.8 million jobs in June and that the unemployment rate dropped to 11.1% from 13.3%. Permanent job losses climbed by 588,000, however, bringing the total to 2.9 million.
The economy has about 15 million fewer jobs than it did in February. Republicans have said they’re determining what measures to push for based on the newest data, though it has been mixed.
“If it turns out the economy is recovering, that’s a good thing, and direct stimulus checks may not be necessary,” Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana told The Wall Street Journal last week. “And so I think we’re still kind of collating, understanding the data as it comes out.”
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