Mnuchin Says Trump’s Payroll Tax Cut Won’t Be in Coronavirus Relief Bill

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that the payroll tax cut President Trump has pushed for will not be in the fifth coronavirus relief package Senate Republicans are crafting.

“It won’t be in the base bill,” Mnuchin said in an interview with CNBC.

“One of the problems with the payroll tax cut is it takes time, so we are much more focused right now on the direct payments,” Mnuchin told reporters Thursday. While the payroll tax holiday will not be in the upcoming bill, “we’re going to come back again” to revisit the issue, he said.

The GOP bill will also include a second round of direct payments to Americans, although specifics about who will be eligible and how much the checks will be for have not been released. The massive $2 trillion CARES Act passed in March to buoy the sagging U.S. economy included one-time $1200 checks to individual Americans.

Mnuchin also said the administration is working with Senate Republicans to revise the expanded unemployment benefits that were included in the CARES Act and are slated to expire at the end of the month. Unemployed Americans are currently receiving $600 more a week in jobless benefits to offset the economic devastation of the pandemic.

“I think we’re very clear on, we’re not going to pay people more to stay home than to work,” Mnuchin said. “So if you were making $300, you’re not going to get $600 this time.”

The treasury secretary added that negotiations are underway for “something that looks like a 70 percent wage replacement.”

The GOP relief package will also include more funding for the administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which helps businesses struggling during the pandemic to meet payroll without furloughing or laying off employees. The bill will provide $16 billion in new funding for coronavirus testing and $105 billion to help schools reopen, which will be awarded partially based on whether schools reopen for in-person classes.