The Senate is gridlocked on approving $2,000 COVID-19 stimulus checks as Republican leaders demand that Democrats agree to also repeal social media legal protections and set up an election fraud commission.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that he won’t hold a vote on the $2,000 checks requested by President Trump unless Democrats support the other two items, which he bundled into a bill.
But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said McConnell’s plan would essentially end the chance of passing $2,000 checks this year because the House went into recess after its vote and won’t return until the new session of Congress on Jan. 3.
“There is no other game in town besides the House bill. The only way, the only way to get to the American people the $2,000 checks they deserve and need is to pass the House bill and pass it now,” the New York Democrat said.
“The House recessed for the year. Any modification or addition to the House bill cannot become law before the end of this Congress. It’s a way to kill the bill.”
But McConnell was firm on his demand — despite Trump tweeting on Wednesday, “$2000 ASAP!“
“Here’s the deal: The Senate is not going to split apart the three issues that President Trump linked together just because Democrats are afraid to address two of them. The Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democrat rich friends who don’t need help,” McConnell said.
The Republican leader said that because of changes to the way dependents are treated under the House-passed five-page bill, households of three earning up to $250,000 would be eligible for additional money.
“If specific struggling households need still more help after the huge historic package that was just signed into law four days ago has taken effect, what they will need is smart targeted aid, not another fire hose of borrowed money that encompasses other people that are doing just fine,” McConnell said.
The impasse threatens an override vote that the Senate had planned to hold Wednesday of Trump’s veto on a $740 billion defense bill. Trump allies hope to run out the clock on that override attempt because it would hamstring Trump’s plan to reduce US troops in Afghanistan from 4,500 in November to 2,500 by Jan. 15.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (center) speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill.CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Shutterstock
Congress last week approved — and Trump on Sunday signed into law — a $2.3 trillion COVID-19 relief and government funding bill that included $600 stimulus checks for adults, with an additional $600 per child. The package also established a new $300 weekly unemployment supplement and authorized $284 billion in forgivable small business Paycheck Protection Program loans.
The Trump-supported House bill would increase the maximum amount for adults to up to $2,000.
For individual tax filers without dependents, the amount decreases — under both the $600 and $2,000 proposals — for people earning more than $75,000 per year. People earning more than $95,000 — and couples without dependents earning more than $190,000 — would get nothing under either plan.
At least four Republican senators support the $2,000 checks, including Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marco Rubio of Florida, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and David Perdue of Georgia.
Many conservatives oppose the higher check amount, however, citing the national debt and potential inflation.
Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, argued that Republican leaders should allow an up or down vote.
“Our unlikely ally President Trump this morning tweeted ‘$2000 ASAP!’. For once, Democrats agree with something on President Trump’s Twitter feed,” Sanders said.