Senate GOP looking at $1,200 in coronavirus cash payments

Senate Republicans are discussing providing Americans with $1,200 in direct cash assistance as part of a mammoth stimulus package, but the idea has sparked fierce division within the caucus.  

As part of a plan discussed during a closed-door caucus meeting on Thursday, checks would go individuals who make up to $75,000. After that the amount of assistance would be scaled down until it is phased out completely at $95,000, according to Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerInfrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens GOP senators urge Saudi Arabia to leave OPEC GOP senator apologizes for tweet calling Pelosi 'retarded,' blames autocorrect MORE (R-N.D.). 

“It’s similar to the 2008 payments,” Cramer said. “It is very middle class.” 

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The number is slightly higher than the $1,000 pitched by the administration as part of its stimulus package, which tops $1 trillion.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill On The Money: Economy sheds 701K jobs in March | Why unemployment checks could take weeks | Confusion surrounds 9B in small-business loans 13 things to know for today about coronavirus MORE (R-Ky.) is expected to unveil the Republican proposal on Thursday afternoon. 

GOP senators stressed that the details of the plan were still in flux, and the idea of providing direct cash assistance has sparked deep pushback from members of the Senate Republican caucus. 

“Here’s what I think. Direct payments make sense when the economy is beginning to start. It makes no sense now," Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham asks colleagues to support call for China to close wet markets Justice IG pours fuel on looming fight over FISA court Trump says he's considering restricting travel to coronavirus 'hot spots' MORE (R-S.C.) told reporters after the lunch, adding that the number under discussion is "all over the board." 

Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyFive things being discussed for a new coronavirus relief bill Infrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens Coronavirus bill includes more than billion in SNAP funding MORE (R-Ala.) added that he believed the direct cash payments should be "as a supplement unemployment, not to the people that are still working every day, you know, just a blanket cash check to everybody in America that’s making up to $75,000.”

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Shelby added that the direct cash payments is currently in the Senate GOP plan.

Cramer, asked if he thought the cash payment provision would end up in the final proposal unveiled by McConnell, added, "I'd bet on it, if I was a betting person."  

The idea of providing direct cash assistance to Americans has gained traction on Capitol Hill, with several Republicans, including Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyHawley unveils initiative to rehire workers laid off during coronavirus crisis, bolster domestic production Lawmakers press IRS to get coronavirus checks to seniors Democrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus MORE (R-Mo.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump selects White House lawyer for coronavirus inspector general Overnight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill On The Money: Economy sheds 701K jobs in March | Why unemployment checks could take weeks | Confusion surrounds 9B in small-business loans MORE (R-Utah), floating their own ideas. 

Supporters argue that it would help cover short-term costs, but opponents say it would not help stimulate the larger economy. 

Mnuchin has floated doing two tranches of $1,000 checks per person. Senate Republicans, however, say they are not yet sold on the need for a second round. 

"I think there's some discussion about whether there should be one and then wait," Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunDemocrats, Trump set to battle over implementing T relief bill Senate GOP looking at ,200 in coronavirus cash payments GOP divided on next steps for massive stimulus package MORE (R-Ind.) said. 

Cramer added that "there’s some discussion of let’s do the first tranche ... and then in six weeks" see if a second tranche is needed.