GOP Lawmakers Appear Split on Trump Administration’s Proposal to Send Americans Checks

President Donald Trump is considering sending Americans checks to help them meet their financial needs amid the coronavirus outbreak. But, he may have some work to do to win over Republican lawmakers.

The idea of sending Americans checks seemed to gain steam this week when Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Monday proposed sending Americans a one-time $1,000 check to help them meet their needs. 

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) proposed similar legislation.

Additionally, Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said he thinks there is a “high level of interest” for the idea.

However, other Republicans proposed legislation designed to help businesses pay their employees throughout the anticipated financial downturn. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters, “My focus is not giving people a check from the government. My focus is to make sure you get your paycheck from your employer.”

Graham added that he was willing to “float loans” to businesses so they can continue to pay their employees.

He added, “I’m not going to give a check on top of a check. If I gave everybody here a thousand dollars, what would you do with it right now? Don’t you want to make sure your paycheck is coming?”

Watch his comments below:

Meanwhile, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) called for an expansion of unemployment insurance and allowing Americans out of work to access those benefits immediately.

“First, we should significantly increase federal assistance to state Unemployment Insurance programs, and change the corresponding regulations to allow states the ability to open the fund for workers to immediately access if they are out of work, temporarily out of work, or have reduced hours.”

Scott also called for a 60-day pause on mortgage, rent, and utility payments for Americans who earn less than $75,000 a year and businesses with less than 250 employees. 

A Treasury Department memo, obtained by The Washington Post, outlines “two rounds of direct payments to individual taxpayers.”

The proposal would cost $500 billion, split into two payments to Americans. The first round of checks would be sent out in early April, and the second round would be sent out around mid-May. 

While there were signs that the administration still had some work to do to win over Republicans on the idea, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he would prefer an expansion of unemployment insurance over sending checks from the government to Americans.