Trump slams McConnell for blocking vote on $2,000 stimulus checks
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday blocked Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) request to hold a vote on a House standalone measure that would boost the size of stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 per person.
Why it matters: President Trump has demanded that the payments be increased, creating a rift between him and Senate GOP leadership ahead of a crucial runoff election in Georgia that will determine control of the chamber. He tweeted on Tuesday afternoon: "Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP. "
Driving the news: McConnell did not explain why he objected to Schumer's request to fast-track the bill, but noted that President Trump has demanded Congress act on repealing liability protections for tech companies and election-related reforms, in addition to the stimulus checks.
- "Those are the three important subjects the president has linked together. This week, the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus," McConnell said in a possible nod to a future package.
The state of play: The House voted 275-134 to pass the $2,000 direct payments bill on Tuesday, with 44 Republicans joining the majority of Democrats.
- Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue, the two senators running for re-election in the Jan. 5 runoff, both came out in support of the $2,000 checks earlier on Tuesday.
- Republican Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) have also publicly said they will support the measure.
- 12 Republicans in total are needed to reach the 60-vote threshold to pass the bill if all Senate Democrats vote in favor, as expected.
What to watch: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has pledged to delay the Senate's plans to override Trump's veto of a crucial defense-spending package unless McConnell holds a full recorded vote on the direct payments measure — keeping the Senate in session during the holiday week and disrupting Loeffler and Perdue's campaign plans.
What they're saying: "A vast majority of the public, Republican and Democrat, strongly support $2,000 checks. An overwhelming bipartisan majority in the House supports $2,000 checks. Senate Democrats strongly support $2,000 checks. Even President Trump supports $2,000 checks," Schumer said on the Senate floor.
- "There is one question left today — do Senate Republicans join with the rest of America in supporting $2,000 checks?" he continued.
- "Now some of my Republican colleagues have said they support the checks, but there is a major difference in saying you support $2,000 checks and fighting to put them into law. The House bill is the only way, the only way, to deliver these stimulus checks before the end of session."