South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham urged Donald Trump against sending checks to Americans in the new coronavirus relief package during a closed-door lunch on Thursday and was backed by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, National Review reports. Graham allegedly made the push before Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin officially announced the details of the stimulus package, which includes direct payments to Americans.
According to the report, Senator Mitt Romney, who has expressed support for a one-time payment of $1,000 to every American, said Wednesday that he is trying to work on a compromise with Graham. Such an agreement would reportedly turn the second of two planned $1,000 checks into unemployment benefits.
As reported by Fox News, Graham appeared on Fox & Friends on Wednesday and supported paying a portion of Americans’ income via unemployment insurance benefits to get them through the pandemic.
“I’m willing to pay 75 percent of people’s income up to $80,000 to get us through that. This ought to be enough money to get us through the next six to eight weeks.”
“I want to restore your income,” Graham added. “I don’t want to give you a thousand dollars and say good luck. I want an income stream.”
Despite Graham’s opposition to direct payments, multiple Senate Republicans have voiced support for such a system. Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri are two such people, as is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who reportedly expressed his support for such a plan in a speech he gave during the closed-door lunch.
“Senate Republicans want to put cash in the hands of the American people,” he reportedly said.
Sen. Kevin Cramer claimed the Republican Party is planning payments for individuals making less than $95,000 and couples making less than $190,000.
Per CNBC, Mnuchin announced the plan for the third COVID-19 stimulus package Thursday. Within the proposal is $500 billion — divided into two blocks — that will provide cash to Americans. In the first block, each American adult will get $1,000, with an additional $500 per child. The second block will be another $3,000 six weeks later, but only under the condition that Trump still has a national emergency in effect.
The plan also includes $300 billion for small businesses and loan forgiveness for employers that still have workers on the payroll, as well as $200 billion for additional facilities within the Federal Reserve.
The new proposal comes after many prominent political figures called for direct cash payments to Americans, including former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, current candidate Bernie Sanders, and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.