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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

Chuck Schumer is now majority leader as 3 new Democratic senators are sworn in

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is officially Senate majority leader after the inauguration of Vice President Kamala Harris and the swearing-in of new Sens. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).

Why it matters: With a 50-50 Senate, Schumer will control a narrow majority with Harris as the tie-breaking vote. Democratic control of the Senate is crucial to President Biden's agenda, from getting his coronavirus relief proposal passed to forgiving student debt.

Off the Rails

Episode 6: Last stand in Georgia

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer, Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 6: Georgia had not backed a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 and Donald Trump's defeat in this Deep South stronghold, and his reaction to that loss, would help cost Republicans the U.S. Senate as well. Georgia was Trump's last stand.

On Air Force One, President Trump was in a mood. He had been clear he did not want to return to Georgia, and yet somehow he'd been conscripted into another rally on the night of Jan. 4.

Schumer plans to pick Gary Peters to run DSCC

Sen. Gary Peters. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is poised to name Sen. Gary Peters to head their party's Senate fundraising arm for the pivotal midterm elections, a move he hopes will allow him to retain his title, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: As chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Peters will be tasked with raising the enormous amounts of money Democrats will need to preserve their razor-thin majority. The appointment is something of a surprise, given the Michigander is viewed as a low-key Midwesterner.

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