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Trump's push for payroll tax cut sparks GOP pushback

Top Republican senators are warning they oppose including a payroll tax cut in the next coronavirus relief bill, even though it's a top priority for President TrumpDonald TrumpWhat blue wave? A close look at Texas today tells of a different story Democrats go down to the wire with Manchin Trump's former bodyguard investigated in NY prosectors' probe: report MORE.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyBiden's program for migrant children doesn't go far enough The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden support, gas tax questions remain on infrastructure 64 percent of Iowans say 'time for someone else' to hold Grassley's Senate seat: poll MORE (R-Iowa) warned on Monday that he believes the move would create a public relations headache for Republicans.

"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," Grassley told reporters on Monday.

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Asked about including a payroll tax cut, Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneOn The Money: Democrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit | White House confident Congress will raise debt ceiling Psaki: Biden 'believes' Congress will lift debt limit despite spending battle Congress barrels toward debt cliff MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told The Hill it would depend on where the “consensus” is, but that he did not personally support a payroll tax cut.

“I’m not a fan of that. I’ve made that pretty clear,” he said.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynProgressive groups launch .5M ad buy to pressure Sinema on filibuster Black lawmakers warn against complacency after Juneteenth victory The Senate is where dreams go to die MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats go down to the wire with Manchin Schumer unloads on GOP over elections bill: 'How despicable of a man is Donald Trump?' This week: Senate set for voting rights fight MORE (R-Ky.), also warned a it would be "problematic."

"I think it's problematic because obviously the trust funds for Social Security and Medicare are already on their way to insolvency. ... I'm not a fan," Cornyn said.

The pushback from Republican senators comes as GOP leadership and the administration have spent two weeks swapping ideas about what to include in the next coronavirus proposal. Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsHead of firms that pushed 'Italygate' theory falsely claimed VA mansion was her home: report The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to go-it-alone on infrastructure as bipartisan plan falters Trump, allies pressured DOJ to back election claims, documents show MORE are expected to meet with Republican senators on Tuesday to brief them.

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Trump touted the payroll tax cut during a meeting with GOP leadership, Meadows and Mnuchin on Monday, telling reporters that it was under discussion.

"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," the president told reporters.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHillicon Valley: Cyber agency says SolarWinds hack could have been deterred | Civil rights groups urge lawmakers to crack down on Amazon's 'dangerous' worker surveillance | Manchin-led committee puts forth sprawling energy infrastructure proposal Chuck Todd reluctant to 'ban' election deniers from 'Meet the Press' GOP divided over bills targeting tech giants MORE (R-Calif.) — who took part in the White House meeting — told reporters afterward that a payroll tax cut was expected to be in the Republican legislation.

McConnell sidestepped a question on Monday about whether it would be in the bill. He indicated over the two-week break that Republicans were looking at another round of stimulus checks but with a lower income ceiling for qualifying.

The CARES Act in March allowed individuals who made up to $75,000 a year to get a one-time payment of $1,200; McConnell has indicated lawmakers could lower that cap to people who earn roughly $40,000.

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The administration has repeatedly pushed for a payroll tax cut to be included in coronavirus relief packages. But the effort has garnered pushback from both Republicans and Democrats, who warn that it won't stimulate an economy that has been battered by businesses that were closed or scaled back due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Grassley on Monday said he thought a direct check would have a bigger impact on Americans.

"I think when a person has a check in his hand, X number of dollars .... I think that is going to do more economic good than if we dribble out $30 every paycheck because people are going to notice it," he said.

He added that if Republicans were going to stick to their topline of roughly $1 trillion, which Mnuchin said he viewed as a starting point, he did not think both direct checks and a payroll tax cut could be included.

"I don't think you can fit them both in," Grassley said.

— Updated at 4:58 p.m.