White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin travel to Capitol Hill Tuesday to meet with Senate Republicans over lunch and then huddle with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on the next coronavirus bill.
Fox News is told the Senate lunch meeting is to get Republicans acquainted with the prospective $1 trillion price tag which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pitching for the next bill. McConnell is hoping to get buy-in from skeptical Republicans by saying he will write the bill and capping the cost at $1 trillion. Democrats believe they should spend more. Hence the $3 trillion bill that came out of the House.
An emphasis will be placed on liability protections, and, as it was described to Fox News “addressing unemployment insurance in a proper way.” The key to Republican support is making sure those off the job don’t make more on unemployment than they would if they were working. That is one issue many Republicans had with the third coronavirus bill. The additional unemployment benefit of $600 a week approved in the third coronavirus package will expire August 1.
Fox News is told Republicans are looking at $100 billion of the $1 trillion to go to state and local governments. $70 billion of that will go toward assisting schools re-open in a safe manner.
President Trump continues to push his demand for a cut in the payroll tax – levies companies pay on behalf of their employees which fund Social Security and other benefits. Many Republicans are reluctant to approve such a reduction because of how it could add $600 to $1 trillion to the deficit. However, advocates in the administration believe the payroll tax would jolt the economy quickly.
“That will be in there,” said one senior source close to the talks of the payroll tax, characterizing it as the President’s “number one ask.”
The tricky part is how Republicans get Democrats on board. Fox News is told that any potential boost in a minimum wage is not part of the negotiations.
Will the package get done?
“Yes,” said one source. “Because it has to get done.”
“The 11th hour,” was the reply.
That means these negotiations will likely crescendo between now and the first week of August.