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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

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

Tech digs in for long domestic terror fight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With domestic extremist networks scrambling to regroup online, experts fear the next attack could come from a radicalized individual — much harder than coordinated mass events for law enforcement and platforms to detect or deter.

The big picture: Companies like Facebook and Twitter stepped up enforcement and their conversations with law enforcement ahead of Inauguration Day. But they'll be tested as the threat rises that impatient lone-wolf attackers will lash out.

The pandemic could be worsening childhood obesity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The 10-month long school closures and the coronavirus pandemic are expected to have a big impact on childhood obesity rates.

Why it matters: About one in five children are obese in the U.S. — an all-time high — with worsening obesity rates across income and racial and ethnic groups, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show.

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