Time is running out for Democrats and Republicans to agree on the next stimulus package, as portions of the CARES Act are set to expire in less than two weeks.
President Donald Trump is expected to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California), U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Monday (July 20) to iron out their must-haves in the new bill, CNBC reported.
For now, the House and the Senate proposals are far apart.
The Republican-controlled Senate has drafted a $1 trillion measure that would include less generous federal unemployment benefits than the current $600 weekly checks. Stimulus checks would be capped for taxpayers who earn up to $40,000 a year. A business aid program would favor hospitality and retail businesses.
In May, House Democrats passed a $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus that would extend the federal jobless benefits, relief for cash-strapped state and local governments, a second direct payment to Americans, hazard pay for front-line workers and more money for coronavirus testing.
The president favors a payroll tax cut for employers and employees. Trump and McConnell have said that any new stimulus must contain a provision to protect businesses from getting sued, the network reported.
Trump has said he would consider vetoing any bill that fails to include the tax cut and a liability shield that makes it very difficult to sue merchants.
According to a draft of that portion of the bill obtained by CNBC: “Defendants are liable only if they fail to make reasonable efforts to follow applicable public health guidelines and commit an act of gross negligence or intentional misconduct.”
In a Fox interview with Chris Wallace on Sunday (July 19), Trump said that such protection is mandatory. “We do need protection because businesses are going to get sued, just because someone walked in, you don't know where the virus comes from, they will sit down at a restaurant, and sue the restaurant and the guy is out of business,” Trump told Fox.
The Senate recess begins on August 10, but July 31 is the last day both chambers of Congress will be in session – the same day many of the CARES Act benefits expire.
Earlier this month, Mnuchin said that any extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will be much more targeted to the businesses that really need the money.
The discussions are underway as the number of personal bankruptcy filings, one indicator of the American consumer’s financial health, fell to the lowest level in 15 years from April through June, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.