When ABC11 reached Tillis on video conference Thursday night, we went right to the thing we've gotten so many questions about from viewers: Exactly how much of Washington's trillion-dollar plan to boost the economy battered by the coronavirus will be for cash payments to individual Americans.
"We're focusing on the people who literally spent most of the money they had in their bank accounts to buy food and supplies to weather the storm," Tillis said.
Details are out on the trillion dollar #Covid_19 bailout plan. We asked NC Sen. Thom Tillis how big a check everyday Americans can expect?— Joel Brown (@JoelBrownABC11) March 20, 2020
“We’re focusing on the people who literally spent most of the money in their bank accounts to buy food and supplies to weather the storm.” pic.twitter.com/ZkgJ6k8nzV
Tillis, who sits on the Senate Banking Committee made clear that does not mean everyone.
"I believe the payments will be for Americans making under $100,000. And I believe it'll be graduated to some level approaching that," he said. "People are walking the hallways here saying 'We're gonna give $1000 checks to people making a million dollars a year' -- not gonna happen!"
If you make $75,000 a year or less you'll get a $1,200 check. Anyone making up to $99,000 will get a smaller check. And families with a household income under $198,000 will get up to $500 per child.
The stimulus plan would be the next step after Tillis voted in favor of a separate bill Wednesday that boosts unemployment benefits, provides food aid and establishes an emergency paid leave program for impacted workers.
But Tillis took criticism for voting 'No' on an amendment creating a more permanent paid leave plan.
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"(The amendment) was proposed in the House," he said. "And we're setting politics aside and trying not to talk about long-term issues, that I do have concerns with, but the short-term needs which is demonstrated and embodied in my vote for the underlying House bill."
There is also the question of what is life like right on Capitol Hill. Two members of congress have tested positive for COVID-19. We asked Tillis how he was feeling and how he was staying safe
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"I'm doing fine. I'm 59 years old. I'll be 60 in August. I try to work out and stay physically fit," he said. "I know I could get the virus. But I also know the odds are in my favor; that I would have flu-like symptoms for a week or two and then I'll be back in the game."
Tillis says half of his staff in his Washington office is working from home for at least the next two weeks.
Tillis is currently running for re-election right now. His Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham says he wants to see greater access to COVID-19 testing, more economic relief for families and business -- including loan relief or deferment on all federal loans and child-care payment help for health professionals and first responders.