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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday blocked unanimous approval of the $ 2,000 COVID-19 stimulus checks requested by President Trump.
McConnell (R-Ky.) Objected after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called for a unanimous vote on a five-page bill that passed the House on Monday with 44 Republican votes.
Trump requested the $ 2,000 checks last week, saying the $ 600 checks approved as part of a $ 2.3 trillion pandemic relief and the government funding bill were too small.
McConnell blocked unanimous passage after scheduling a vote Wednesday to override Trump’s veto on a $ 740 billion defense bill.
It’s unclear if enough Senate Democrats will rally behind an obstruction attempt, or if the override vote will proceed without McConnell accepting a $ 2,000 check deal.
Schumer, citing a newly passed tax reform to benefit the so-called “three martini lunches,” urged McConnell to allow “a simple up-or-down vote” on both the void checks and the $ 2,000 checks before the legislative session ends on January 3.
Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who is part of the Democrats, threatened Monday to obstruct the unrelated override vote unless McConnell scheduled a vote on the $ 2,000 checks. But if 60 senators vote to end the debate, the defense override vote can occur without concessions to Sanders.
Schumer said in the Senate that “$ 600 is not enough. Not enough of the Nashville mother with $ 4,000 behind in rent whose water was shut off earlier this month, not the medical receptionist in Macomb $ 2,100 behind in rent, the electricity to the house was cut off in September on the third day of your child’s virtual kindergarten. ”
Sanders said that “hunger in America is at the highest level it has been in decades, with moms and dads struggling to feed their children and working families lining up mile after mile for emergency food packages.”
He added: “We are even seeing an increase in grocery store robberies as desperate Americans try to prevent their families from starving, all of this is happening in the richest country in the history of the world.”
McConnell did not explain his position on the increase in check amounts, but said the Senate “would begin a process” to focus the request.
Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, whose Jan. 5 runoff races against Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff will determine partisan control of the Senate next year.
Republican Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Josh Hawley of Missouri also endorse Trump’s request for $ 2,000 checks.
Supporters of bigger checks cite rising unemployment as a result of local government-ordered business closures due to the pandemic.
Trump Asks Congress To Amend COVID Relief Bill
Opponents of increasing the amount of the check say the boost would rack up an estimated $ 463 billion in national debt and increase inflation.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, said Monday that it would be wise to pause and “evaluate the impact of vaccines” that began this month.
Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, one of two “no” Democratic votes in the House, said that “it is clearly a last-minute political maneuver by the president and extremists on both sides of the political spectrum who have been absent for months of very tough negotiations. ”
Legislation passed by the House would change the amount from the recently passed $ 600 to $ 2,000. Checks are subject to resource verification: people who earn more than $ 95,000 and married couples who earn more than $ 190,000 get nothing on the $ 600 or $ 2,000 proposals.
The $ 2.3 trillion bill Trump signed on Sunday creates a new $ 300 weekly supplement for the unemployed and adds $ 284 billion in forgivable small business loans from the Paycheck Protection Program. He also authorized stimulus checks for $ 600 per child.