Mitch McConnell says the Senate will consider Trump's demand for $2,000 stimulus checks but rejects initial vote
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said the Senate would "begin a process" of considering $2,000 stimulus checks for Americans — a measure that Democrats and President Donald Trump have pushed for.
- Trump had refused to sign Congress' $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill, which includes $600 checks, for nearly a week while demanding that the legislation include the larger direct payments.
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that the Senate will "begin a process" of considering a proposal to send $2,000 stimulus checks to most Americans — a measure Democrats and President Donald Trump are pushing for.
The Kentucky Republican said the direct payments are "linked" to Trump's two other major demands: an investigation of voter fraud and ending some protections for tech companies.
"Those are the three important subjects the President has linked together," he said. "This week the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus."
Also on Tuesday, McConnell blocked Democrats' initial attempt to hold a vote on the $2,000 checks. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, on Tuesday called for an immediate vote in the upper chamber after the House passed the supplemental relief, known as the CASH Act, on Monday night with the support of 44 Republican members and all but two House Democrats.
"There's one question left today: Do Senate Republicans join with the rest of America in supporting $2,000 checks?" Schumer said Tuesday.
It's unclear what McConnell's next move will be, but linking Trump's three demands will likely sink the stimulus checks as Democrats have been highly critical of Republicans' false claims that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Democratic lawmakers will also likely oppose the GOP effort to alter or repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which Trump has advocated for in his efforts to punish companies like Facebook and Twitter for what he argues is a bias against conservative voices.
Sen. Bernie Sanders expressed frustration with McConnell's suggestion that he won't hold a standalone vote on the stimulus checks.
"The House passed, to their credit, a simple straight forward bill. Let's not muddy the waters," Sanders told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. "Are you for $2000 or are you not? Lets not talk about so-called voter fraud or abortion or anything else. That's what the American people want to know: Which side are they on right now?"
McConnell's move is the latest in a protracted and tumultuous debate over whether the federal government should send a second round of stimulus checks out as COVID-19 continues to rage across the country and public health officials warn the worst days of the pandemic are yet to come.
Trump's demand for the more generous direct payments puts Republican lawmakers, who cite the national debt in their opposition to larger checks, in a tricky position.
It's politically dangerous for many Republicans to break from Trump. Illustrating the influence Trump maintains among GOP voters, Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the Georgia Republicans facing runoff races in January, both announced on Tuesday that they'd support the $2,000 payments. The senators' Democratic opponents — Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff — have called the $600 payments too small.
The Georgia races will determine control of the Senate — Republicans only need to win one of the seats in order to maintain its majority.
A growing number of Republican senators, including Marco Rubio of Florida, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Josh Hawley of Missouri, have recently announced their support for the $2,000 checks.
Trump refused to sign Congress' $900 COVID-19 relief bill for nearly a week while demanding that the legislation include the larger direct payments and cut out foreign aid. He claimed the Senate would hold a vote on the $2,000 checks and a few other pet issues of his as he signed the legislation on Sunday night. But McConnell didn't mention any of Trump's demands of the Senate in his statement after the president's signing on Sunday.
The president tweeted again about the checks on Tuesday: "$2000 for our great people, not $600! They have suffered enough from the China Virus!!!"
But the vast majority of Senate Republicans have consistently opposed even the $1,200 direct payments Democrats pushed for in the relief package. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy blocked a previous effort by House Democrats to pass the $2,000 checks and a slew of Trump's closest allies in the House voted against the CASH Act on Monday.
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