SALT LAKE CITY — Congressional Republicans aren’t inclined to include another stimulus check in the next federal coronavirus relief package now under negotiation, Sen. Mitt Romney said Tuesday.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., indicated just the opposite on the Senate floor.
“I think most of the Republicans in the Senate and in the House are not enthusiastic about another check of that nature,” Romney said Tuesday on KSL Newradio’s “Dave and Dujanovic” show. “But I did see that the White House is encouraging us to do that.”
President Donald Trump said last month that he’s ready to send Americans more relief checks amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Romney, R-Utah, said if the White House and the Democrats were to agree on a second round of direct payments, the president might be able to pick off a few Republicans to go along with him.
But Trump might not need to go that route.
McConnell said Tuesday that Republicans want to include a second round of stimulus checks and Paycheck Protection Program funding in the next proposal.
”Speaking of building on what worked in the CARES Act, we want another round of direct payments, direct payments to help American families keep driving our national comeback,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. He did not offer details about who would qualify for the checks.
I think most of the Republicans in the Senate and in the House are not enthusiastic about another check of that nature. But I did see that the White House is encouraging us to do that.
–Mitt Romney, Utah Senator
The Trump administration requested two rounds of checks in the March coronavirus bill, but GOP senators rejected that in favor of one check.
McConnell also said Republicans want to extend Paycheck Protection Program funding with a “special eye” toward hard-hit businesses.
Romney said the program worked in that it did get money into the hands of struggling businesses as fast as possible but that it was not well-crafted. Some companies obtained the loan, though they didn’t need it, he said.
“I’ve heard of everything from law firms to other businesses that actually had their business go up still receive money from the PPP program, and that’s simply not right,” he said, adding those companies should return the money if it wasn’t necessary to keep them afloat.
Romney said he expects Congress to continue the program, though it should be limited to businesses that had sales drop 25% or 50% this year compared to last year.
The Utah senator also favors extending the enhancement of unemployment benefits but not at the current level of an extra $600 a month, which end this week.
Romney also is pushing for a mechanism to rein in excessive spending that contributes to the national debt, something he said Republicans, Democrats and the Trump administration don’t have much interest in.
As Congress begins debate this week, my foremost priority will be mandatory provisions to address our national debt
–Chris Stewart, Utah Congressman
“I understand that during a crisis like the one we’re in is the time that you do borrow. But we should not be borrowing when we come out of this crisis,” he said.
Romney has introduced legislation to bring down the $25 trillion national debt.
“We’ll see if we can get that in the package or not,” he said.
Paying down the debt is also a prime concern for Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah.
“As Congress begins debate this week, my foremost priority will be mandatory provisions to address our national debt. Second, any additional relief must directly target individuals and small businesses while increasing government accountability and transparency on all spending,” he said.
While there are positive trends in the nation’s economy, it’s clear that Americans who lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic still need help, Stewart said.
Sen. Lee Mike, R-Utah, is focused on helping charities by allowing all taxpayers to claim a greater portion of the charitable deduction and helping families by expanding the child tax credit, according to his spokesman, Conn Carroll.
He is drafting legislation to increase the $300 limit on the charitable giving deduction Congress approved as part of the March coronavirus relief package to one-third of the standard deduction. The plan would boost the deduction to $4,000 for an individual and $8,000 for married couples for 2019 and 2020 tax returns.