Will stimulus checks make it into COVID-19 relief deal?

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Some in Congress say the next COVID-19 relief plan should include a second round of direct checks to families.

The compromise deal that has brought Senate Republicans and House Democrats back to the negotiating table does not include those stimulus payments, which would be $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child.

But Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said he wants President Donald Trump to veto any package that doesn’t include the checks.

“I think there’s an obligation here to help people get back up on their feet,” Hawley said. “You’ve got a lot of working people who have jobs but their hours are reduced, they’ve taken pay cuts; maybe they’ve got kids at home because of COVID distance learning. Those folks need relief.”

Moody’s analytics reports that more than 12 million Americans are more than $5,000 behind on rent payments.

Hawley said he has spoken directly to Trump and that the president supports his push for stimulus checks. It remains to be seen whether enough fellow Republicans will get on board with Hawley’s ultimatum.

“I’m not against (stimulus checks),” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said. “I just don’t know if we’re going to be able to do it.”

He said the checks are not his first priority.

“My focus really has been, if we do nothing else, we’ve got to keep these small businesses afloat,” Rubio said.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the fate of direct payments depends on how much Republicans are willing to spend. He said the checks would add $300 billion to the current $908 billion package. But, he noted, Trump’s support could push Republicans to move, even if they’re unhappy with the total price tag.

“That could change if President Trump wants to send those checks,” Durbin said.

A September Gallup poll showed 7 in 10 Americans supported another round of checks, including 82% of Democrats, 64% of Republicans and 66% of independents.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, said she is pushing for another round of checks in negotiations. It’s unclear where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stands.

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