U.S. Congress, White House talk coronavirus aid as infections surge

U.S. Congress, White House talk coronavirus aid as infections surge

Key GOP senators revolted over the emerging effort as the price tag could quickly swell above $1 trillion.

The lunch session grew heated as key Republican senators complained about big spending, vowing to stall the relief bill's passage. He said on Tuesday he wants to "get something done by the end of next week" before the extra unemployment insurance benefits expire.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., has been an advocate for more spending to increase access to rapid result tests as well as more money to aid distribution doses of an eventual vaccine.

"I just don't see the need for it", Sen.

Sen. Susan Collins of ME told reporters that the tax break would absorb a significant amount of federal spending that was needed for other priorities.

Democrats have seized on the GOP divisions to blast Trump and the Republicans while pushing the House-passed $3 trillion Heroes Act.

"We're still on the 20-yard line?" he said, referring to White House comments. "Where have the Republicans been?"

Now with McConnell supporting direct payments, the coronavirus stimulus checks are nearly confirmed because Congressional Democrats and President Trump are already on board. Complicating the negotiations, President Donald Trump has pushed for unpopular provisions, like reducing funding for testing and cutting the payroll tax.

The bill will include roughly $105 billion in aid for schools, which was higher than the earlier projection of $70 billion floated by Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Mitchell McConnell Jr. told reporters that the Trump administration wants to make sure that the funding package "meets the legitimate needs that are before the American people".

McConnell has suggested the Senate would lower the income ceiling for the next round of stimulus to cover Americans who make less than $40,000 a year. It's also likely to include tax breaks to help shops and workplaces retool safely for the reopenings.

McConnell said little about the pandemic as he opened the Senate and the nation's death toll topped 142,000, the outbreak delaying schools from opening in fall and forcing states to clampdown with new stay-home orders.

On Tuesday, Mnuchin and Meadows made it clear the White House was resisting the Democratic proposals for new spending on virus testing, housing aid or money for cash-strapped states, according to a person granted anonymity to discuss the private talks. But after getting pushback from Senate Republicans on several issues, including the payroll tax cut, they were dialing back expectations. The tax is already being deferred for employers under the previous virus relief package.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress aim to pass a fourth coronavirus aid package before the end of the month, but they will have to overcome significant differences.

Coming out of that closed-door session, some Senate Republicans expressed strong opposition to the soon-to-be-released package, including Sens.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the GOP plan will include a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, but it would be "targeted" to businesses most affected by the pandemic.

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida left saying it's wrong to "bail out" cash-strapped states.

The proposed virus aid package would be the fifth, following the $2.2 trillion bill passed in March, the largest US intervention of its kind. So, having said all that, what was McConnell's reaction to the question about wrapping up a coronavirus stimulus package by the end of next week?

President Trump has said he wants to send Americans a second round of direct payments as part of fresh coronavirus relief legislation, following the checks delivered in the spring.