This post has been updated.
With the majority of coronavirus stimulus payments distributed, the question of a second round is mounting. But some Republicans don’t see this likely to happen.
The $2.2 trillion stimulus package signed at the end of March was the largest emergency aid package in U.S. history with $250 billion of it going directly to Americans’ wallets to help them weather the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
And while some Democrats support a second payment and have even proposed recurring monthly payments to Americans, some Republicans aren’t on the same page despite President Trump being open to the idea.
“Well people in hell want ice water, too,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) when asked about more rounds of stimulus payments, according to The Hill. “I mean, everybody has an idea and a bill, usually to spend more money. It’s like a Labor Day mattress sale around here.” (A spokesperson for Kennedy later said that the senator’s comments were in reference to potential bills that would further increase state and local government funding.)
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said he’s not supporting additional stimulus payments, either.
“I wasn't a real big supporter of that in the first round,” he said, according to The Hill. “This isn't your classic recession.”
During the initial negotiations of the stimulus package in March, the White House proposed “two tranches.” The idea at the time was to distribute $1,000 per person immediately and then an additional $1,000 six weeks later if a national emergency was declared.
“We could very well do a second round,” President Trump said in April. “It is absolutely under serious consideration.”
Republican senators, meanwhile, wanted to see if a second round would be needed.
This includes Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) who said that the original two-round approach was held off because of a need for more time to assess.
“I think we’re still in that assessment,” he said, according to The Hill.
On the other hand, some Republicans have signaled openness to the idea of more checks, including the president.
How about $2,000 a month?
As part of the CARES Act, eligible Americans received up to $1,200 in economic impact payments along with $500 per child under 17. Now, Democrats have floated a minimum guaranteed income, which is supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who also said the next bill should include “giving families additional direct payments.”
In a recent letter signed by 62 members of Congress, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), they argued that “recurring monthly payments is the most efficient mechanism for delivering economic relief to those most at-risk in this crisis.”
Sanders has also called for monthly direct payments of $2,000 to every person in the United States.
In response to Pelosi’s and remarks by other Democrats, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) said: “It’s incredibly tone-deaf of Speaker Pelosi to continue using this crisis to push these radical socialist ideas that have been consistently rejected.”
Others, like Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN.), also said they’re not ready to support such legislation:
“I’m probably not going to be interested in doing anything for a while,” Braun said, according to The Hill. “Whether it’s the payroll tax cut, a round of stimulus checks, I’m thinking $3 trillion has been a pretty good wallop.”
Ben Werschkul contributed reporting.