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Trump, GOP clash over new round of checks

Senate Republicans and President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE are facing off over a new round of COVID-19 stimulus checks, with GOP senators warning Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinOn The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Mnuchin expected to launch investment fund seeking backing from Persian Gulf region: report Larry Kudlow debuts to big ratings on Fox Business Network MORE on Tuesday to mind the mounting federal deficit.

Trump views the $1,200 “economic impact payment” checks that featured his name prominently as a political and economic winner. Many GOP senators, on the other hand, think a second round would be a huge waste of money.

Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyPhilly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote Toomey on Trump vote: 'His betrayal of the Constitution' required conviction MORE (Pa.) was one of several Republican senators who warned Mnuchin about the rising red ink at a Tuesday lunch. The deficit is projected to hit $3.7 trillion in 2020, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

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“I expressed a lot of skepticism about the wisdom about doing another big spending bill,” Toomey, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said after the meeting.

He said another round of $1,200 checks doesn’t make sense as the economy starts to reopen after the lockdowns in March and April.

“I’m a skeptic about the idea of doing that. That was an emergency measure taken when we were in a full-blown crisis and, frankly, knew it was wildly inefficient because all kinds of people were getting checks whose work was not jeopardized,” he said.

Toomey said many recipients of the checks “didn’t have any lost income” or were government employees or retirees.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioWatch live: Day 2 at CPAC DeSantis derides 'failed Republican establishment' at CPAC The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Divided House on full display MORE (R-Fla.) said several of his colleagues spoke up at the meeting and “urged caution moving forward.”

“We want to make sure the next round of assistance is targeted at those who need it the most,” he said.

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Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziLummis adopts 'laser eyes' meme touting Bitcoin Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes With Senate at stake, Georgia is on all our minds MORE (R-Wyo.) said Senate GOP concerns about the ballooning deficit were “well covered” at the meeting.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynPolitics, not racism or sexism, explain opposition to Biden Cabinet nominees Biden pledges support for Texas amid recovery from winter storm Partisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission MORE (R-Texas), another member of the Finance panel, said the round of $1,200 checks “was necessary at the beginning” of the crisis when people might have had to wait for state and federal unemployment benefits to catch up with the massive spike in layoffs and furloughs in March and April.

“I don’t see the compelling need” for another round now, he said.

Cornyn is instead pushing for legislation to provide tax relief to the oil and gas industries, which were hit hard by this year’s economic slowdown.

Trump told Scripps local TV news on Monday that he plans to send out another round of checks.

“Yeah, we are. We are,” he said. “We will be doing another stimulus package. It’ll be very good. It’ll be very generous.”

Mnuchin, walking into the Senate Republican lunch Tuesday, confirmed that another round of rebate checks is on the table.

“It will be one of the things we’re discussing,” he told reporters.

Mnuchin, however, did not make a pitch for the checks at the lunch, according to two GOP senators who attended.

The Treasury secretary told senators the administration’s goal is to get another coronavirus relief bill passed through Congress by the end of July, according to Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntPartisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Microsoft, FireEye push for breach reporting rules after SolarWinds hack MORE (R-Mo.), who attended the meeting.

Congress has already appropriated nearly $3 trillion to respond to the pandemic, a significant portion of which has yet to be spent.

Trump and Mnuchin may be able to circumvent GOP opposition to a second round of checks by cutting a deal with Democratic leaders.

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The $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill the House passed last month — the HEROES Act — includes a second round of $1,200 checks, which the legislation would also extend to unauthorized immigrants that have Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerThe bizarre back story of the filibuster Hillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds House Rules release new text of COVID-19 relief bill MORE (N.Y.) and Minority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinPartisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission Murkowski undecided on Tanden as nomination in limbo Democrats ask FBI for plans to address domestic extremism following Capitol attack MORE (Ill.), the two top-ranking Senate Democrats, have expressed support for another wave of stimulus checks.

Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMcCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 After vote against coronavirus relief package, Golden calls for more bipartisanship in Congress Democrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous' MORE’s bill extends it to American citizens who have someone who is undocumented in their household, I believe. I think that’s the only significant difference. I support that change,” Durbin said Tuesday.

Mnuchin and Senate Republicans focused on other proposals during their Tuesday meeting.

“We’re talking about a bunch of different ideas that we may need to do in another bill and we want to take our time and make sure we’re thoughtful so whatever we do it will be much more targeted, much more focused on jobs, bringing back jobs, and making sure we take care of our kids,” he said.

They discussed another round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a popular small-business lending program, as well as a payroll tax holiday for essential workers and federal funding for schools and colleges to help students return to classes in the fall.

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Republicans are discussing setting up a revenue-loss test for businesses that apply for PPP loans, which Rubio, the chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, said would ensure “that we’re prioritizing the industries and businesses that were hardest hit.”

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstBill to shorten early voting period, end Election Day early in Iowa heads to governor's desk We know how Republicans will vote — but what do they believe? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Senate trial will have drama, but no surprise ending MORE (R-Iowa), who faces a competitive race this fall, floated at the meeting the idea of a payroll tax holiday for essential workers and Mnuchin did not object to it, according to a lawmaker in the room.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderCongress addressed surprise medical bills, but the issue is not resolved Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (R-Tenn.) is pushing for federal money to help schools and colleges restart in the fall.

“The area that I think we should be looking at is to make sure schools and colleges have enough funding so that 75 million students can go back to school and college safely and if they don’t, I think we should address that in July,” he said.

Alexander said after the meeting he’s “disinclined” to support another round of checks.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Health Care: 50 million coronavirus vaccines given | Pfizer news | Biden health nominees Rand Paul criticized for questioning of transgender health nominee Haley isolated after Trump fallout MORE (R-Ky.) called another round of checks “a terrible idea.”

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“We’re already setting records with how much money we’ve spent,” he said. “We’ve added like $4 trillion in debt in one year just with what they’ve done so far.”

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGraham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents Partisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission Cruz hires Trump campaign press aide as communications director MORE (R-Wis.) said “anything we do in the future has to be better targeted.”

He said Congress needs to take a close look at the money that was appropriated in March and remains unspent.

“Possibly if the economy comes back fast enough maybe we repeal some of that spending,” he said. “I certainly do not think we’re in a position today to have to authorize even a dollar more.”