The Treasury Department will be asking Congress for $500 billion in direct payouts for taxpayers as part of a $1 trillion stimulus package to combat the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a proposal obtained by NBC News.
The two rounds of direct payments to taxpayers, each a total of $250 billion, would be sent on April 6 and then the second round would be sent on May 18, according to the proposal. They would be tiered payments, with the amounts based on income level and family size, the proposal says. Both payments would be for the same amount.
President Donald Trump was asked about the proposal at a coronavirus briefing at the White House on Wednesday, and said, “I don’t want to get in that right now” because there are “different numbers” being discussed. But, he added, “we want to go big.”
The Treasury is also asking for $50 billion for the airline industry, a small business interruption loan program of $300 billion, and $150 billion for other distressed sectors, the proposal said.
Trump had initially favored a payroll tax cut to bring relief to Americans struggling financially, but a number of lawmakers across party lines have been pushing for direct payments to Americans.
The White House first floated its support for sending checks directly to Americans during a news conference Tuesday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Trump wanted Americans to get relief as soon as possible.
“Americans need cash now, and the president wants to get cash now,” Mnuchin said Tuesday. “And I mean now in the next two weeks.”
On Monday, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, proposed giving every adult $1,000 to help meet financial obligations. A group of Senate Democrats, led by Michael Bennet of Colorado, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, proposed sending as much as $4,500 to each American.
Not every lawmaker is on board with the plan.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R.-S.C., said he wants the stimulus to focus on ensuring small businesses can continue to pay their employees.
“I’m not looking to send people a government check. I’m looking to keep their paychecks coming. And if we don’t do that we’re making a huge mistake,” Graham told reporters on Wednesday, adding $1,000 checks won’t really get “you anywhere because there’s no place to spend a thousand dollars.”