Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell intensified his pulse with outgoing President Donald Trump on Wednesday by preventing a vote on his petition to increase direct aid to Americans and advance an initiative aimed at canceling for the first time his veto of a law.
Underneath this struggle lies a struggle to show their influence in the party, with Trump’s departure from the White House on view next January 20.
“There is no realistic way”
In a Senate speech, McConnell made it clear that he will not vote on Trump’s request to increase direct pay to every American from $ 600 to $ 2,000, a proposal that had been endorsed by Democrats and a growing number of members of the U.S. Republican Party.
McConnell announced that the proposal to extend those checks does not “have a realistic path to be approved in the Senate”, dominated by the conservatives.
With a new Congress taking office Jan.3, McConnell suggested the bill simply expire, even though it had already been approved by the Democratic-majority lower house.
More than a week ago, the two houses of Congress approved a stimulus package of $ 900,000 million dollars aimed at alleviating the deterioration of the economy due to the pandemic and that included direct payments of $ 600 dollars to all Americans with a lower annual income at $ 75,000.
For five days, Trump resisted ratifying the stimulus package, although on Sunday night he backtracked and agreed to sign it on the condition that aid for Americans be increased to $ 2,000.
Right away, the Democrats picked up the gauntlet and on Monday approved that increase in the House of Representatives; But, on Tuesday, McConnell fought back and outlined his strategy based on his power, as leader of the Senate, to decide which initiatives are put to the vote or not.
Specifically, the Republican linked the legislative project to increase payments to citizens with another initiative to end the so-called “Section 230”, which protects internet giants like Twitter and Facebook from any legal consequences for what third parties post on their websites.
In addition, he included in that package another law to create a commission to study the November 3 elections, in which Democrat Joe Biden won, but whose victory Trump does not recognize when he alleges, without proof, that there was fraud.
By linking those initiatives, which Trump strongly supports, McConnell set the Democrats a trap and, in practice, it buried the initiative.
“Due to this pandemic and our massive response, for the first time since World War II, we now have a national debt that is larger than our economy,” McConnell lamented.
The end of the republican identity
In his speech, McConnell made several allusions to the ideas of fiscal discipline and control of public spending that historically were part of the essence of the Republican Party until the arrival of Trump, which has promoted greater investments by the Government.
The Republican Party faces the challenge of defining its identity once the president leaves the White House on January 20 and some of its members are betting on returning to those ideas of fiscal discipline.
In addition, referring to ideas of patriotism, the majority of Republican senators took a new step on Wednesday to override Trump’s veto on the annual defense budget law valued at $ 741,000 million of dollars.
With 80 votes in favor and 12 against, the Senate passed a procedural step that was necessary to begin the debate aimed at invalidating the presidential initiative, so that the final vote could take place on Friday, New Year’s Day, or Saturday.
The Lower House, dominated by Democrats, already voted in favor of the initiative on Monday and now it only remains for the Senate to give the go-ahead.
An annulment of the veto by Congress would be a serious setback for Trump in the last days of his presidency, which ends on January 20, 2021. It would also be the first time that it has occurred since he arrived at the White House almost ago. four years.