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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."

Go deeper

Jan 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy
Scoop

White House plots "full-court press" for $1.9 trillion relief plan

National Economic Council director Brian Deese speaks during a White House news briefing. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden White House is deploying top officials to get a wide ideological spectrum of lawmakers, governors and mayors on board with the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The broad, choreographed effort shows just how crucially Biden views the stimulus to the nation's recovery and his own political success.

Scoop: Conservative group puts $700k behind Hawley

Sen. Josh Hawley explains his objection to certifying the 2020 election results hours after the U.S. Capitol siege. Photo: Congress.gov via Getty Images

A Republican group is raising and spending huge amounts of money defending Sen. Josh Hawley after he was ostracized for early January’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Why it matters: The Senate Conservatives Fund is plugging Hawley's ideological bona fides and backfilling lost corporate cash with needed political and financial support, helping inoculate him as he weighs reelection or a possible presidential campaign in 2024.

Kaine, Collins' censure resolution seeks to bar Trump from holding office again

Sen. Tim Kaine (center) and Sen. Susan Collins (right). Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are forging ahead with a draft proposal to censure former President Trump, and are considering introducing the resolution on the Senate floor next week.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction, Axios Alayna Treene writes. "I think it’s important for the Senate's leadership to understand that there are alternatives," Kaine told CNN on Wednesday.

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