Coronavirus Relief Bill US: McConnell tries to block $2,000 checks

Mitch McConnell on Wednesday shot down another attempt by Democrats to pass a standalone bill that would send $2,000 stimulus checks to Americans, saying the Senate won’t be ‘bullied’ into passing it.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer attempted to bring up a bill passed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi that will increase the $600 checks already approved to the $2,000 amount that President Donald Trump requested. 

McConnell objected, stopping the legislation in its tracks, and, instead, touted his own legislation, which has little chance at passing.

The continued clash decreases the chances for Americans to see larger stimulus checks as the economy continues to struggle during the coronavirus pandemic.  

McConnell used the president as his excuse, arguing the Democratic bill doesn’t meet with Trump’s request. Along with tripling the check amount, President Trump also wants a repeal of section 230 of tech law and an investigation of election fraud – neither of which is in Pelosi’s bill but is in one McConnell proposed. 

‘The Senate is not going to be bullied,’ McConnell said in remarks on the Senate floor, adding: ‘The Senate is not going to split apart the three issues Trump linked together just because Democrats are afraid to address two of them.’

Mitch McConnell on Wednesday shot down another attempt by Democrats to pass a standalone bill that would send $2,000 stimulus checks to Americans, saying the Senate won’t be ‘bullied’ into passing it.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer attempted to bring up a standalone bill to increase the check amounts to $2,000 but McConnell shot it down

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer attempted to bring up a standalone bill to increase the check amounts to $2,000 but McConnell shot it down

The House bill pushed by Democrats ‘does not align with what President Trump has suggested,’ McConnell said. ‘And which has no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate.’

But while McConnell was clear Democrats’ standalone bill has no chance of passing the Senate, his combo legislation has no chance either given the objections to a full repeal of section 230 (most lawmakers want to simply amend that section of law) and Democrats’ refusal to support a probe of the election. 

‘There is no other game in town besides the House bill,’ Schumer said in his remarks on the Senate floor, arguing McConnell’s bill has too much ‘partisan policy’ to pass.

The clock is ticking for the Senate. Congress adjourns for this session on January 3. Any legislation not passed is dead and the process must start a new on January 4th.

McConnell instead turned his attention to the National Defense Authorization Act.  

He attacked Senator Bernie Sanders for the senator’s threat to hold up a vote to override President Donald Trump’s veto of the must-pass defense bill, which funds the Pentagon. The House has already voted to override the veto and the Senate needs to do the same for the defense legislation to become law.

‘Our colleague says he will slow down this vital bill unless he gets to muscle through another standalone proposal from Speaker Pelosi that would add roughly half a trillion dollars to the national debt,’ McConnell said of Sanders’ efforts.

Sanders vowed not to let the Senate vote on the veto override until it addresses the stimulus checks. He can hold up the process until New Year’s Day, at which point the Senate could vote. McConnell has the votes to override the veto and wants to get the matter taken care of.

Sanders also took to the Senate floor to plead for passage of the standalone House bill for the $2,000 stimulus check. Standing before a poster featuring President Trump’s tweet from Wednesday morning – ‘$2,000 ASAP!’ – Sanders said that: ‘On this issue, amazingly enough, the president of the United States is right.’

He also went after McConnell, pointing out the high poverty numbers in his home state of Kentucky. 

‘Let me just make it clear for the majority leader, that 10 out of the poorest 25 counties in the United States of America are located in Kentucky. So maybe my colleague, the majority leader, might want to get on the phone and start talking to working families in Kentucky and find out how they feel about the need for immediate help in terms of a $2,000 check,’ he said.

Senator Bernie Sanders took to the Senate floor to plead for the check amount to be increased

Senator Bernie Sanders took to the Senate floor to plead for the check amount to be increased

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is putting pressure on Republicans to pass the House bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is putting pressure on Republicans to pass the House bill

In addition to Trump’s tweets, Democrats have been piling on the pressure, urging the Senate to move quickly on the matter. 

‘In blocking it, they are in denial of the hardship the American people are experiencing now, health wise, financially, and every way,’ Speaker Pelosi said at a press conference Wednesday. 

But the Democrats effort came to not. Republican objections kept the standalone bill for $2,000 checks from being voted on.

Even as the debate continues over the next legislative steps, the $600 payments included in the $900 billion coronavirus relief package will start appearing in Americans’ bank accounts as early as next week.

McConnell proposed a bill Tuesday evening that couples the increased payments with a full repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and the creation of an election fraud panel to probe the 2020 presidential election.

All three actions have been pushed by Trump.

The Senate majority leader knows, however, that he is proposing a ‘poison pill’ that is doomed for failure.

The bill would also need to go to the House, which is no longer in session, for approval before going to the president’s desk.

McConnell, and most other Republicans in the Senate, don’t want another few hundred million tacked onto the national deficit in increasing the already approved $600 direct checks three-fold.

President Donald Trump supports tripling the payments, tweeting Wednesday morning: '$2000 ASAP!'

President Donald Trump supports tripling the payments, tweeting Wednesday morning: ‘$2000 ASAP!’

Trump signed on Sunday the first COVID-19 relief bill since March, which includes another round of payments for most Americans struggling in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. By doing so, he also avoided forcing a government shutdown as the relief was included in the latest government funding bill.

The president, however, demanded that the checks be upped to $2,000, as well as insisting that foreign spending be cut.

The Democrat-controlled House passed a standalone bill on Monday to increase the payments to the president’s requested amount – and also struck down Trump’s veto of the ‘vital’ NDAA to fund the Pentagon through the year.

As the Senate debates the check amounts, possibly through New Year’s Day, the $600 payments will already be showing up in Americans’ bank accounts as early as Wednesday, January 6.

This is the same day Congress will meet in a joint session to certify the 2020 election for Joe Biden. 

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