Second stimulus check: GOP senators not ready to commit to direct payments

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will discuss a second stimulus package and President Donald Trump has vowed it will happen “soon,” it remains unclear whether a direct payment or check will be part of that process.

Democrats are urging for another round of money to be sent to Americans while Republicans aren’t ready to commit to the idea.

Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, says we should get a little more clarity on the new stimulus package when Congress returns to Washington after the current recess.

“What the components of it are, I can’t tell you completely because there’s been a lot of work behind the scenes on various ideas. We know that a direct payment to individuals was done initially because they needed some financial help,” said Cornyn.

The senior senator went on to note that expanded unemployment insurance and the Paycheck Protection Program included in the first stimulus package seemed to work well.

“There are other parts of it that I think we may need to reprogram…some of the money we’ve already appropriated to put it in other places,” added Cornyn.

Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana offered a similar perspective, saying, “If you put a gun to my head and said, ‘Tell me what’s going to happen, give me your best guess,’ I’d have to tell you honestly, I don’t know.”

Kennedy acknowledged senators would examine another direct payment but did not directly endorse it.

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio spoke with WKBN-TV in Youngstown twice this week about supporting another round of stimulus, but the Republican never mentioned the possibility of direct payments. Instead, he focused on helping the unemployed and providing tax-relief incentives for companies and businesses that take measures to safely reopen.

Where we stand

McConnell has said lawmakers will begin discussing a stimulus package following the current two-week congressional recess. During a Monday event in Kentucky, McConnell noted a stimulus check could be included in the package — and it might be targeted to those hardest hit, according to The Washington Post.

On Thursday morning, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he was hopeful stimulus legislation could be passed by the end of July. That seems to echo Trump, who said earlier this week that the next round of checks would be coming sooner than later.

“We are working on another stimulus package, and that will take place … very soon,” Trump told Jessi Turnure, a reporter for the Nexstar Washington, D.C., Bureau.

Trump said his administration and Congress are currently negotiating the exact amount included in the next round of coronavirus relief.

Congress and the Senate will recess until July 20. It’s unlikely the Senate will consider any additional relief packages before that time.

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