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Economic stimulus bill to focus on ‘kids and jobs and vaccines’: Mnuchin

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  • A second round of coronavirus stimulus will focus on returning kids to schools, improving hiring, and funding coronavirus vaccine development, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday.
  • The GOP plans to spend “another trillion dollars” on its upcoming fiscal package, Mnuchin said, far less than the $3 trillion measure passed by House Democrats in May.
  • Mnuchin didn’t specify if the expansion to unemployment benefits would be renewed past its July deadline, instead saying Republicans are looking for a “technical fix” to the program.
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a Monday letter that Democrats “will stand together again if we must” should Republicans push a largely partisan bill.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Republicans’ plan for a second fiscal package aims to return kids to schools, boost hiring, and fund coronavirus vaccine development, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday.

President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers met on Monday to iron out their upcoming stimulus proposal. Congress is staring down a rapidly approaching deadline to pass new spending legislation as relief programs near expiration and surging infection counts threaten a deeper recession.

Republicans plan to spend “another trillion dollars” with the upcoming bill, Mnuchin told reporters at the meeting. The spending package will primarily focus on “kids and jobs and vaccines,” he said.

“We’ll have tax credits for PPE, for safe work environments, and we’re going to have big incentives, money to the states for education, for schools that can open safely and do education,” the Treasury Secretary added.

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Apart from nearing an August recess, legislators are also scrambling to address the upcoming exhaustion of expanded unemployment benefits. The $600 per week addition set out in Congress’s first bill is set to expire by the end of July. 

Mnuchin didn’t specify whether the expansion will be renewed, and instead said Republicans are looking for a “technical fix” for the unemployment insurance program.

“We’re going to make sure that we don’t pay people more money to stay home than go to work,” Mnuchin said.

The Treasury Secretary will likely repeat his role as a key intermediary between the White House and Democratic lawmakers through stimulus negotiations. Talks have largely remained within separate parties over recent weeks. House Democrats passed a $3 trillion package in May, but Senate Republicans have ignored the bill, instead looking to keep the spending total at roughly $1 trillion.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol that the draft bill will include a payroll tax cut, according to Bloomberg. The measure has been frequently demanded by President Donald Trump, yet it lacks full support from GOP lawmakers, and Democrats are mostly against its passage.

Another round of stimulus payments will also feature in the bill, McCarthy said, though Republicans have yet to detail who will be eligible for the checks. While Democrats have called for a second round of payments to resemble the first, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated Republicans would issue checks only to those making less than $40,000.

McConnell also plans to advance liability limits for schools, charities, businesses, and healthcare workers. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said such policy would “grant legal immunity to negligent corporations, nursing homes or others that fail to take reasonable steps to avoid spreading the virus.”

“During the debate over the CARES Act, it was our unity against a partisan, Republican first draft that allowed for significant improvements to be made,” Schumer wrote in a Monday letter. “I hope we will not have to repeat that process. But we will stand together again if we must.”

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