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Schumer seizes on GOP divisions over payroll tax cut

Schumer seizes on GOP divisions over payroll tax cut
© Bonnie Cash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerNew York court worker arrested, accused of threats related to inauguration Schumer: Trump should not be eligible to run for office again McConnnell, McCarthy accept Biden invitation to pre-inauguration church service MORE (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday seized on Republicans' divisions over a payroll tax cut as lawmakers and the White House start negotiations over the next coronavirus relief package.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Schumer highlighted the lack of unity among Republicans on the issue of a payroll tax cut while arguing that such a tax cut would be problematic.

"The Trump Administration has fixated on a payroll tax cut — an idea that will not only will harm those who rely on Social Security, but will do nothing for the tens of millions of Americans who have lost their jobs during this crisis," Schumer said. "Many of my Republican colleagues aren’t too keen on that idea, with good reason, and yet it may still be in Leader McConnell’s proposal. Because he and the other Republicans are afraid to tell President TrumpDonald TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports MORE no, even when they know he’s wrong." 

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President Trump has said that a payroll tax cut is one of his top priorities for the relief bill. He argues that such a move would save taxpayers money and would also encourage businesses to rehire and retain their workers.

But key GOP senators have raised concerns, noting that payroll tax revenue is used for Medicare and Social Security. Democrats, advocates for seniors and economic policy experts across the ideological spectrum also have argued that a payroll tax cut is the wrong course of action.

Schumer spoke shortly after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump has talked to associates about forming new political party: report McConnell, Schumer fail to cut power-sharing deal amid filibuster snag McConnell keeps GOP guessing on Trump impeachment MORE (R-Ky.) previewed Republicans' forthcoming coronavirus relief proposal but did not mention a payroll tax cut. He told reporters that GOP lawmakers and administration officials are discussing the issue.

Any final package will ultimately need the support of both Republicans and Democrats to become law.