Senate GOP unveils massive coronavirus bill that includes checks for Americans

The Republican proposal also includes emergency aid for small businesses and industries such as airline companies.

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By Lauren Egan

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday released the Republican proposal for a massive emergency coronavirus stimulus bill, which includes direct cash payments for some Americans.

The proposal, expected to cost around $1 trillion, calls for direct payments on a tiered scale. Individuals making $75,000 based on a 2018 tax return would be eligible for $1,200 payments, or $2,400 for couples filing jointly.

The payments would decrease for those making more than $75,000, with an income cap of $99,000 per individual or $198,000 for couples. The payments would also increase $500 for each child a person or couple has.

However, taxpayers with little or no income tax liability but at least $2,500 of qualifying income would be eligible for only $600 or $1,200 for couples. The direct deposits appear to be just a one-time payment, rather than two payments as initially proposed by the White House.

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The Republican proposal also includes emergency aid for small businesses and industries such as airline companies.

The GOP proposal would provide $208 billion for loans or loan guarantees to air carriers and other distressed industries but no more than $50 billion for passenger air carriers and $8 billion for cargo air carriers. The rest, around $150 billion, would be for other industries.

The bill also calls for extending the tax filing deadline to July 15.

The Republicans' proposal is likely to change as they begin negotiating with Democrats and work to build support in both chambers.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., indicated that he wanted to give Americans more money than the initial $1,000 per adult floated by the White House.

"That might help families cover rent, groceries for a month, but then what?" Schumer said Thursday. "If we are going to do it, it's got to be bigger, more generous and more frequent than what I've heard."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Schumer also stressed the need for the bill to put "workers first."

"To earn Democratic support in the Congress, any economic stimulus proposal must include new, strong and strict provisions that prioritize and protect workers, such as banning the recipient companies from buying back stock, rewarding executives, and laying off workers," they said in a statement Thursday evening.

“We are beginning to review Senator McConnell’s proposal and on first reading, it is not at all pro-worker and instead puts corporations way ahead of workers,” the two said in a second statement.

McConnell's decision to keep Democrats out of the initial round of discussions frustrated some lawmakers, who pointed out that previous coronavirus spending bills had included direct negotiations between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

But that did not keep Democrats from opening up their own dialogue with the White House. Pelosi and Schumer spoke with Mnuchin multiple times in the days leading up to the GOP proposal.

McConnell said Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic adviser, will be on Capitol Hill on Friday to meet with both parties about the bill.

Still, it remains unclear how quickly both parties can come to an agreement. McConnell instructed senators that they would not be leaving "until we do our job," and many said they expected to work through the weekend.

McConnell reminded lawmakers Thursday that the third coronavirus bill would likely not be the last legislation they would pursue.

"The legislation I have just laid out will not be the last word," McConnell said. "This is not Congress' last chance to legislate. But it is critical that we move swiftly and boldly."

Hanging over Congress' head is the revelation that two members had been infected with the coronavirus, adding to the need to act quickly as more and more lawmakers could be forced to stay home.

Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Ben McAdams, D-Utah, announced Wednesday that they had tested positive, forcing some lawmakers who had been in close contact with them to self-quarantine.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., announced Thursday morning that the House would not return to session until it is ready to vote on the emergency bill.

Julie Tsirkin contributed.