GOP signals Trump’s payroll-tax cut in Republican coronavirus bill — for now

Top administration officials signaled on Monday night that a payroll-tax cut, a top priority for President Trump, is in the forthcoming Republican coronavirus aid proposal, at least for now.

Asked if the payroll-tax cut had to be in the Republican bill, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters “it’s in the bill.”

“So we’ll see,” he added. “We look forward to meeting with everybody.” 

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, asked about the payroll-tax cut, added that it “plans to be in it.”

“I mean, that’s part of the proposal,” he added.

The administration is pushing to include a payroll-tax cut in the fifth coronavirus aid package. Trump publicly pitched the idea during a meeting at the White House on Monday with Mnuchin, Meadows, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). 

“I think it’s a very important thing. …I think it’s an incentive for companies to hire their workers back. … A payroll-tax cut to me is very important,” he told reporters. 

McCarthy told reporters after the meeting that the payroll-tax cut would be in the forthcoming GOP bill. Talk of including the payroll-tax cut in the Republican proposal is largely fluid, with a GOP bill not yet released.

Republicans and the White House are still negotiating among themselves. Mnuchin and Meadows are set to brief the Republican conference during a closed-door Tuesday lunch. They will also meet again with a smaller group of GOP senators and have their first meeting with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). 

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said that he personally doesn’t support including the payroll-tax cut in the next coronavirus aid package, but floated that it could be in the initial version of the Republican bill. 

“I would say that it is a big priority, as you know, for the President. And so his advocates, Mnuchin and Meadows and others, I think will probably try and ensure that it’s at least included in the first draft,” Thune said, before laughing. “Let’s put it that way.” 

Asked if that meant it could come out later, Thune added that “there are a lot of Republicans who don’t like it for a lot of different reasons.” 

McConnell said the talk on Tuesday would be focused on seeing “if we can develop kind of a common approach to this on our side.” He sidestepped a question about including the payroll-tax cut. 

Several GOP senators, including Thune, indicated earlier Monday that they did not think including the payroll-tax cut was a good idea.

“Go to the fact that Social Security people think we’re raiding the Social Security fund. And we are raiding it, but we have always put in general fund revenue in it so it is made whole. But that creates — it might create political problems — but it creates a public relations problem,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told reporters.

Tags Chuck Grassley Chuck Schumer Donald Trump John Thune Kevin McCarthy Mark Meadows Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Steven Mnuchin

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