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McConnell on Phase-Three Coronavirus Package: ‘Republicans Want to Put Cash in the Hands of the American People’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell addresses reporters after the Senate Republicans policy lunch on Capitol Hill, December 3, 2019. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) confirmed that Republicans plan to “put cash in the hands of the American people” with a “much bolder proposal” for the phase-three economic package to address coronavirus, after multiple reports emerged that Republicans were considering sending checks directly to all American adults.

Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, McConnell said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) is finalizing the structure for direct cash payments to Americans in order to “get assistance to individuals and families as rapidly as possible.”

“Senate Republicans want to put cash in the hands of the American people,” McConnell said. “No tangled Washington process with 1,000 cooks in the kitchen. No piles of forms for laid-off workers or busy families. Money for people. From the middle class down. Period.”

McConnell added that Republicans were “even more determined” not to “leave small businesses behind,” and said Senators Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Susan Collins (R., Maine) were crafting a proposal “on the order of hundreds of billions of dollars to address immediate cash-flow problems” for small businesses.

“Nobody is alleging a moral hazard here. None of these firms — not corner stores, not pizza parlors, not airlines — brought this on themselves. We are not talking about a taxpayer-funded cushion for companies that made mistakes,” McConnell said, seemingly in reference to worries over bailouts for corporations resulting in stock buybacks.

Text of the Senate Republicans’ plan is expected Thursday afternoon, with both McConnell and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin keeping close taps on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), whose support will be necessary for the package to fast-track to President Trump’s desk.

“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.

Reports Wednesday suggested that the $1 trillion package would be split between $500 billion in cash payments and $500 billion for assisting various businesses.

Republicans have grown increasingly supportive of cash payment this week and have released a number of different proposals to transfer cash directly to citizens. Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) has called for monthly payments to working families below a certain income bracket, with payments gradated based on family size and married or single-parent status, while Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and Mitt Romney (R., Utah) have each called for direct cash payments of a fixed amount.

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