Mitch McConnell Blocks $2,000 Stimulus Check Vote, Wants To Package Bill With Two Other Issues
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday blocked Democrats’ push to immediately bring President Donald Trump’s demand for bigger $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks up for a vote, saying the chamber would “begin a process” to address the issue.
Pressure is mounting on the Republican-led Senate to follow the House, which voted overwhelmingly on Monday to meet the president’s demand to increase the checks from $600 as the virus crisis worsens. A growing number of Republicans, including two senators in runoff elections on Jan. 5 in Georgia, have said they will support the larger amount. But most GOP senators oppose more spending, even if they are also wary of bucking Trump.
The outcome is highly uncertain heading into the rare holiday-week session.
“There’s one question left today: Do Senate Republicans join with the rest of America in supporting $2,000 checks?” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said as he made a motion to vote.
The showdown has thrown Congress into a chaotic year-end session just days before new lawmakers are set to be sworn into office for the new year. It’s preventing action on another priority – overturning Trump’s veto on a sweeping defense bill that has been approved every year for 60 years.
The president’s last-minute push for bigger checks deeply divides Republicans, who are split between those who align with Trump’s populist instincts and those who adhere to what had been more traditional conservative views against government spending. Congress had settled on smaller $600 payments in a compromise over the big year-end relief bill Trump reluctantly signed into law.
Liberal senators led by Bernie Sanders of Vermont who support the relief aid are blocking action on the defense bill until a vote can be taken on Trump’s demand for $2,000 for most Americans.
Trump tweeted his demands ahead of Tuesday’s Senate session: “$2000 for our great people, not $600!”