The Treasury Department will ask Congress for $500 billion in direct payouts to taxpayers to combat the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak, according to a proposal obtained by NBC News.
The report said the direct payouts would be part of a $1 trillion stimulus package.
The Trump administration has proposed two rounds of direct payments to taxpayers that would be sent out April 6 and May 18.
The amount of money would be tiered based on income level and family size, but taxpayers would receive the same amount both rounds.
When asked about the proposal at a media briefing Wednesday, President Donald Trump said, “I don’t want to get into that right now” because there are “different numbers” in the discussion.
The Treasury Department also is seeking $50 billion to help the airline industry, a $300 billion loan program for small businesses and $150 billion for other sectors in distress, according to the proposal.
Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted about his intention to send checks out “soon.”
“For the people that are now out of work because of the important and necessary containment policies, for instance the shutting down of hotels, bars and restaurants, money will soon be coming to you,” Trump wrote.
“The onslaught of the Chinese Virus is not your fault! Will be stronger than ever!” he continued.
Trump initially floated the idea of a payroll tax cut to help families struggling financially, but Republican and Democratic lawmakers, including failed presidential candidate and current Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah have pushed for direct payments.
For the people that are now out of work because of the important and necessary containment policies, for instance the shutting down of hotels, bars and restaurants, money will soon be coming to you. The onslaught of the Chinese Virus is not your fault! Will be stronger than ever!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2020
However, not every lawmaker agrees with this approach. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina wants any stimulus to focus on helping small businesses continue to pay their employees.
“I’m not looking to send people a government check,” Graham said, according to NBC News. “I’m looking to keep their paychecks coming. And if we don’t do that, we’re making a huge mistake.”
The federal government has sent Americans money at least twice before.
During the Great Recession in 2008, every adult was sent a $300 to $600 check and an additional $300 per child. Similarly, most Americans received a $300 check in 2001 amid a recession.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the president wants the checks to go out as soon as possible.
“We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” he said Tuesday. “Americans need cash now, and the president wants to get cash now, and I mean now in the next two weeks.”
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