U.S. President Donald Trump met with Republican congressional leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy on Monday to plot their priorities for the next coronavirus aid package - while Democrats warned they were ready to stymie any Republican effort to pass partisan legislation.
In a meeting at the White House, House Minority Leader McCarthy said the Republican proposal would include a cut to the payroll tax. Something Trump favors, though the idea has stirred little enthusiasm on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers worried about protecting Social Security payments, which are funded by payroll taxes.
Trump: "Payroll tax cut to me is very important. We are working on it."
Senate Majority Leader McConnell is expected to unveil legislation in coming days.
McConnell: "Kids in school, jobs and health care is the theme of the proposal that we hope to come together and present to our Republicans."
The Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-led House have less than two weeks to hammer out a new relief package before enhanced unemployment benefits run out for tens of millions of Americans made jobless by the pandemic.
But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin suggested that this time around enhanced unemployment benefits won't be as much as the current level of $600 extra per week.
Mnuchin: "We're gonna make sure that we don't pay people more money to stay home than go to work... we'll have tax credits that incentivize businesses to bring people back to work. We'll have tax credits for PPE for safe work environments.”
Mnuchin, who led previous coronavirus bill negotiations with Congress, said $1 trillion is their starting point for upcoming negotiations.
But Democrats have pledged to fight for legislation similar to the $3 trillion rescue package the House approved in May, with hundreds of billions of dollars going to state and local governments and new payments to individuals and families.
A source told Reuters Congressional Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, will meet Tuesday to discuss coronavirus relief with Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.