Dec 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate tide begins to shift toward $2,000 checks after Trump's push

Marco Rubio campaigning for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue
Sen. Marco Rubio campaigning for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in Georgia. Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

A couple of days ago, it looked impossible that $2,000 COVID relief checks — up from the $600 checks for individuals in the package President Trump signed Sunday — could pass the Senate. That has changed with Trump's final-hours advocacy for bigger checks, Republican sources tell Axios.

The state of play: It's still an uphill battle. But Republican senators are feeling more pressure from constituents — pumped by Trump — to do more.

  • It could be too politically risky for some Republican senators to vote "no."
  • If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell "brings it to the floor, it might get 60. Then Trump can claim victory," said a Republican source who provided a breakdown of how the vote could go.

Driving the news: "I am concerned about the debt, but working families have been hurt badly by the pandemic," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted Monday. "This is why I supported $600 direct payments to working families & if given the chance will vote to increase the amount."

Senators to watch: Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — with one or two other spending hardliners needed.

  • The House yesterday voted overwhelmingly yesterday— 275-134 — for $2,000 checks, with 44 Republicans joining almost all Democrats.

🥊 A Wall Street Journal editorial (subscription) today calls the president's push for $2,000 checks "a Donald Trump in-kind contribution to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden."

  • If McConnell allows a vote, The Journal argues, it "would split the GOP caucus and upset fiscally conservative voters."

What's next: Senate consideration of $2,000 checks is unlikely to begin before Friday, after Sen. Bernie Sanders threatened to delay an override of Trump's veto of the defense spending bill over McConnell's reluctance.

Go deeper