Senate Republicans expressed skepticism of President Trump’s proposal of a payroll tax cut for the next coronavirus relief bill, citing litigation protection as a much higher priority.
“Right now, not much,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) told Politico when asked what he thought of the president’s proposal. “I’m going to give it due consideration, if I can see a strong group of people who think it’s the right thing to do.”
“The president proposes, we dispose,” added Grassley, whose committee handles federal tax policy.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said that his caucus believed “if there’s any red line, it’s on litigation,” with top deputy John Thune (R., S.D.) admitting he is “not a particular fan of” Trump’s insistence on capital gains and other tax cuts.
“I guess I’m open to being persuaded that it’s something that could be effective. But I think some of the things we’re currently doing are having a bigger impact,” Thune explained, with the Senate’s phase-two CARES Act already creating funds for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program. “The payroll tax cut only helps if you’re on the payroll.”
Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) added that while the push for tax cuts “sounds like the beginning of a negotiation,” it is “imperative” for Republicans to pass liability protection.
Trump, who tried to get the Senate to adopt a payroll tax cut measure in March, told Fox News on Sunday that “we’re not doing anything without a payroll tax cut.” On Tuesday, the president tweeted that “Payroll Taxes, and perhaps Capital Gains Taxes, must be put on the table.”