Coronavirus

Republicans Reject Second Stimulus Bill

Congressional Republican leaders say they will study the impact of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act before giving the green light to any new COVID-19 stimulus spending, Reuters reported.

“We need to assess what we’ve already done, take a look at what worked and what didn’t work, and we’ll discuss the way forward in the next couple of weeks,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) told reporters on Tuesday (May 19) after President Donald Trump spoke at a Senate Republican luncheon.

U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) agreed there’s no need for a second coronavirus bill right now.

But the House Republican leader said he would support the bipartisan measure to lengthen the loan period for the Small Business Association’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to 10 or 12 weeks, up from eight in the original legislation.

PYMNTS reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, supports the measure that would make the popular forgivable loan program more flexible and extend the timeline for using the money.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), chairman of the Senate’s Small Business Committee, said he hopes the legislation will pass this week to alter the loan program to help restaurants and other small enterprises survive prolonged closings during the pandemic.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham threw cold water on a plan by the Democrats to extend the $600 per week federal unemployment benefit under the CARES Act beyond its expiration date in July. 

Conservatives and business owners have said the enhanced benefit, which is added to what states provide to the jobless, pays some Americans more than they earned while working.

Graham said Trump told senators “he agrees that is hurting the economic recovery,” the news service reported.

Still, as the jobless rate reached nearly 15 percent last month, some lawmakers say the unemployment insurance provisions must be revised.

Last week, the Democratic-controlled House passed a follow-up to the CARES Act that includes $3 trillion in relief for state and local governments, a second direct payment to Americans, hazard pay for front-line workers, more money for coronavirus testing and a temporary rollback of the cap on state and local tax deductions.

While that plan appears to be doomed, a bipartisan group of senators signed a bill to establish a $500 billion fund to help state and local governments, whose revenues are severely down by coronavirus-related closings, Reuters reported.

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