Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) told colleagues during a closed-door lunch on Thursday that he and recently-appointed White House Chief-of-Staff Mark Meadows are telling President Trump to oppose direct cash payments to Americans during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
🚨🚨NEWS, from the closed Senate GOP lunch: @LindseyGrahamSC just told his Republican colleagues that he is trying to convince TRUMP to oppose direct payments in PHASE THREE bill— as is new WH COS, Mark Meadows.
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) March 19, 2020
Graham, who on Tuesday said “it won’t help the economy just throwing money at a problem,” did not return a request for comment. He then pushed back on the reporting, tweeting that he is “willing to pay 75 percent of people’s income up to $80,000 to get us through.”
I'm willing to pay 75 percent of people's income up to $80,000 to get us through. This ought to be enough money to get us through the next six to eight weeks.https://t.co/xhhNzzpCTm
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) March 19, 2020
With the White House mulling two $1,000 checks to certain Americans, Senator Mitt Romney (R., Utah) — who has called for a one-time $1,000 payment to every American — said Wednesday that he was working with Graham on a compromise that would turn convert the funding for the second check into more unemployment benefits.
Other Senate Republicans, including Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, have voiced their support for funding Americans and their families with direct cash infusions. Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) stated during a speech before the lunch that while the details of the phase three package are still being worked on, “Senate Republicans want to put cash in the hands of the American people.”
Senator Kevin Cramer told CNN after the Thursday lunch that the GOP is considering payments for individuals under a threshold of $95,000 in adjusted gross income, and couples making less than $190,000.
For individuals making $75K in adjusted gross income or less, they would be eligible for $1200 payments.
The payments would decrease until it reaches the $95K level for individuals. People making more than $95K would receive nothing.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 19, 2020
The official proposal, which is being coordinated with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, is expected later Thursday.
The White House also seems to have moved towards favoring direct payments, after President Trump initially pushed for a payroll tax cut.
“Americans need cash now and the president wants to get cash now. And I mean now, in the next two weeks,” Mnuchin said at a White House press conference on Tuesday.