Trump, GOP clash over new round of checks

Senate Republicans and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE are facing off over a new round of COVID-19 stimulus checks, with GOP senators warning Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinWhite House officials, Democrats spar over legality, substance of executive orders Sunday shows - Trump coronavirus executive orders reverberate Pelosi: 'Of course there's room for compromise' on 0-per-week unemployment benefit 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 ToomeyDunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel GOP senators push for quick, partial reopening of economy NSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show 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 RubioPPP application window closes after coronavirus talks deadlock  The Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election US intelligence says Russia seeking to 'denigrate' Biden 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 EnziChamber of Commerce endorses Ernst for reelection Republicans battle over COVID-19 package's big price tag Conservative group launches ad campaign for Rep. Roger Marshall in Kansas Senate race MORE (R-Wyo.) said Senate GOP concerns about the ballooning deficit were “well covered” at the meeting.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynCOVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance From a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters Skepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal 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 BluntSkepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal GOP expects Senate to be in session next week without coronavirus deal House Republicans introduce legislation to give states 0 million for elections 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 SchumerWhite House officials, Democrats spar over legality, substance of executive orders Schumer declines to say whether Trump executive orders are legal: They don't 'do the job' Schumer: Idea that 0 unemployment benefit keeps workers away from jobs 'belittles the American people' MORE (N.Y.) and Minority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinWhite House officials, Democrats spar over legality, substance of executive orders Sunday shows - Trump coronavirus executive orders reverberate Durbin blasts Trump's 'country-club fix' on unemployment MORE (Ill.), the two top-ranking Senate Democrats, have expressed support for another wave of stimulus checks.

Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWhite House officials, Democrats spar over legality, substance of executive orders Sunday shows - Trump coronavirus executive orders reverberate Pelosi: 'Of course there's room for compromise' on 0-per-week unemployment benefit 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 ErnstWill the next coronavirus relief package leave essential workers behind? Hillicon Valley: Facebook bans ads from pro-Trump PAC | Uber reports big drop in revenue | US offers M reward for election interference info Senate passes legislation to ban TikTok on federal devices 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 AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderSeveral GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline Trump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary 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 PaulTrump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus 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 JohnsonBlumenthal calls for declassification of materials detailing Russian threat to US elections Democrats try to force Trump to boost medical supplies production GOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe 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.”