GOP Stimulus Bill To Include Payroll Tax 'Deferral' And Direct Payments, Reduced Unemployment Boost

A new pandemic relief bill being drafted by Senate Republicans and the White House would include a payroll tax 'deferral', as well as another round of direct payments to individual Americans - potentially at the same $1,200 level as the previous stimulus in the Cares Act.

According to the Washington Post, the payroll tax deferral is in lieu of an outright cut - which keeps down the technical cost of the overall bill, but could also be waived entirely by lawmakers at a later date.

"It’s been proven to be successful and it’s a big saving for the people. It’s a tremendous saving and an incentive for companies to hire their workers back and to keep their workers," Trump said of the payroll tax relief, following a Monday meeting in the Oval Office which included Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

"The payroll tax to me is very important," Trump added of the 7.65% tax paid by employers and employees which funds Social Security and Medicare.

Mnuchin, meanwhile, "confirmed Republicans plan to reduce the size of a $600-per-week enhanced unemployment benefit approved in March, which will begin running out for millions of Americans later this week," according to the Post, which notes that Republicans have argued that many workers are making more thanks to the enhanced unemployment benefits than they were while employed.

"We’re going to make sure that we don’t pay people more money to stay at home than go to work, we want to make sure that people who can go to work safely can do so," said Mnuchin. "We’ll have tax credits that incentivize businesses to bring people back to work, will have tax credits for [personal protective equipment] for safe work environments."

On Tuesday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows will be meeting with the full Senate GOP conference at their weekly policy lunch in order to review the proposal.

According to McConnell, the legislation will contain liability protection for businesses, healthcare providers and others per the Post.

"We don't need an epidemic of lawsuits."

The GOP legislation will reportedly omit funds for cities and states which Democrats have requested, and will instead allow governors and local leaders to more easily tap into $150 billion which has already been reserved, according to the Post, citing two other people familiar with the talks.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have insisted that any new stimulus include additional aid for cities and states.

Instead, in the GOP plan, states would get money for schools -- but it will be explicitly tied to schools reopening, something that has been a major focus of late for Trump, according to the first person briefed on the negotiations.

It was unclear how exactly the money would be structured to prod schools to reopen -- or what would constitute reopening.

People involved with the talks cautioned that negotiations were ongoing and provisions were fluid and subject to change. But the legislation taking shape appears to contain multiple provisions anathema to Democrats, who have already begun to denounce it -- leaving it unclear whether Congress will be able to come together around a final deal in the three weeks before they leave Washington for their annual summer recess. -Washington Post

The GOP plan is expected to cost around $1 trillion - a far cry from the $3 trillion bill House Democrats passed in May.