Congressional lawmakers have begun discussions on potentially issuing another round of COVID-19 stimulus payments for businesses.
Sources told The Washington Post, which was the first to report on the talks, that the discussions — led by Sens. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSenators huddle on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate On The Money — Support for new COVID-19 relief grows Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE (D-Md.) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerOn The Money — Support for new COVID-19 relief grows Democrats face scaled-back agenda after setbacks Momentum builds for new COVID-19 relief for businesses MORE (R-Miss.) — have largely focused on authorizing billions in aid for businesses, including restaurants, gyms, minor league sport teams and entertainment venues.
A source close to the matter confirmed to The Hill that Cardin and Wicker are working to gather bipartisan support for additional aid for restaurants and other businesses.
Cardin serves as the chair of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, and Wicker is currently the ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. According to the Post, Cardin and Wicker last month put together a $68 billion proposal which includes new spending as well plans to repurpose unspent funds from other stimulus packages.
Cardin and Wicker's offices did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.
The two lawmakers have spoken with other members of the Senate about the potential stimulus package, including Sens. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellUS lawmakers weigh new COVID-19 stimulus funding for businesses Senate whistleblower report alleges oversight problems with aerospace industry safety On The Money — Senate risks Trump's ire with debt ceiling deal MORE (D-Wash.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerNew Mexico Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE (D-Va.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden, NATO eye 'all scenarios' with Russia Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law The Hill's Morning Report - US warns Kremlin, weighs more troops to Europe MORE (R-Maine).
However, a senior Biden administration official told CNN that there are no plans for any further stimulus packages.
"No. There might be something small for restaurants. But the economy is booming, there are millions of open jobs, and we do not believe people should be sitting at home if they are vaccinated and boosted, as most adults are," they said. "So we are not going to write checks to incentivize people to sit at home, and we are not going to bail out businesses if the economy seems strong."
White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul Qatar emir to meet with Biden at White House next week White House underscores action amid violent crime streak MORE addressed these reports on Wednesday during a press briefing.
"We did a major relief package that included helping restaurants just last year," Psaki said. "We are in constant discussions with Congress and leadership about the needs of the American people, whether they are small businesses or restaurants or people sitting in their homes as we continue to fight the pandemic, but don’t have any new pending request or specific requests and wouldn’t predict that at this moment in time."
Updated at 3:50 p.m.