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 CramerGOP skeptical of polling on Trump Senate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law Cruz urges Trump to support Israeli annexation 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 McConnellHouse chairman asks CDC director to testify on reopening schools during pandemic Senate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick Pelosi says House won't cave to Senate on worker COVID-19 protections 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 GrahamLincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump backs another T stimulus, urges governors to reopen schools Democrats awash with cash in battle for Senate MORE (R-S.C.) told reporters after the lunch, adding that the number under discussion is "all over the board." 

Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyFinger-pointing, gridlock spark frustration in Senate Democrats sidestep budget deal by seeking 0B in emergency spending Fights over police reform, COVID-19 delay Senate appropriations markups 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 HawleyOvernight Defense: House Dems offer M for Army to rename bases | Bill takes aim at money for Trump's border wall | Suspect in custody after shooting at Marine training facility  Should the United States withdraw from the WTO? Defense spending bill includes M for Army to change Confederate base names MORE (R-Mo.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySixth GOP senator unlikely to attend Republican convention Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump backs another T stimulus, urges governors to reopen schools 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 BraunClash looms over next coronavirus relief bill Romney, Collins, Murkowski won't attend GOP convention Gridlock mires chances of police reform deal 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.