Mutual agreement on COVID-19 relief bill by Senate and White House

Senate Republicans and the Trump administration say they have reached a broad consensus on the next COVID-19 relief bill, including a new round of direct stimulus checks to Americans and $105 billion for schools.

A group of senators and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters Wednesday night they have “a fundamental agreement” on their version of the bill, which will be introduced Thursday as a series of measures rather than in a single bill.

“We’ll have one appropriations bill, we’ll have several authorization bills that explain in more detail how that appropriated money will be spent, and obviously there will be a bill that will talk about any money that is distributed in direct payments or any other way,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., chair of the Senate rules committee.

The Senate bill will be a starting point for negotiations with the Democratic-led House, which in May passed a $3 trillion bill that seeks to extend a $600 per week increase for unemployment benefits — a measure mostly opposed by Republican senators. Both sides have said they want a deal signed before they break for August recess.

While cautioning that the proposal is still fluid due to disagreements among GOP lawmakers and the White House, senators said late Wednesday the bill will likely have a price tag of around $1 trillion.

Deep divisions remain within the Republican caucus on the issue, which has given unemployed an additional $600 per week.

One of President Donald Trump’s top priorities, a payroll tax cut, is also unclear, GOP leaders said.

Senate finance committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said it might be not be possible to have a new round of stimulus and a payroll tax cut and remain within a $1 trillion spending limit.

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