WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ Lawmakers are suggesting that a second round of direct payments be sent to the Americans that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Negotiations are underway between Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate on the next round of economic relief, which may include targeted payments for lower-income Americans.
The deal could also include an extension of supplemental unemployment benefits and financial assistance for local governments to stave off the economic fallout due to COVID-19.
“We need to make sure that those people who are hardest hit get the relief they need,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, said. “If somebody is at work and doing fine and paying the bills, there’s no reason that they should be getting a payment, but people who are hurting because of this pandemic should be getting the relief they need.”
Van Hollen said time is of the essence as key protections from previous bills, such as eviction protection and unemployment benefits, are slated to expire at the end of July.
“We still have 20 million Americans out of work,” he said. “You could see a flood of eviction notices going out so all of those issues need to be dealt with.”
Additional targeted payments appear to be a common ground among lawmakers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has already suggested additional payments be sent to those making less than $40,000 annually.
President Donald Trump also supports the stimulus, according to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
“There’s some interest in doing it through a payroll tax cut, there’s other interest in writing checks directly, there are whole variety of forms of which it could take,” Ross said.