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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a floor speech Monday that the chamber has "more than sufficient time" to confirm a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election, and accused Democrats of preparing "an even more appalling sequel" to the fight over Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Why it matters: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said "nothing is off the table next year" if Republicans push ahead with the confirmation vote before November, vowing alongside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to use "every procedural tool available to us to ensure that we buy ourselves the time necessary."

The state of play: As of now, two Republican senators — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).— have said they oppose voting before the election. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), another moderate swing vote, plans to wait to issue a statement until after a Senate GOP lunch on Monday.

  • Two more Republican defections would force McConnell to hold a vote in the lame-duck session of Congress.
  • If Trump loses the election and Democrats take control of the Senate, there will be be enormous pressure on Republicans to defer to the incoming winners.

What they're saying: "The American people are about to witness an astonishing parade of misrepresentations about the past, misstatements about the present, and more threats against our institutions from the same people — the same people who have already been saying for months, well before this, already been saying for months they want to pack the court," McConnell said.

  • "We're already hearing incorrect claims that there is not sufficient time to examine and confirm a nominee. We can debunk this myth in about 30 seconds. As of today, there are 43 days until Nov. 3 and 104 days until the end of this Congress.
  • "The late iconic Justice John Paul Stevens was confirmed by the Senate 19 days after this body formally received his nominations. 19 days from start to finish. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, another iconic jurist, was confirmed 33 days after her nomination. For the late Justice Ginsburg herself, it was just 42 days."

Go deeper: Trump plans to announce nomination on Friday or Saturday

Go deeper

Updated Dec 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Georgia's GOP senators back $2,000 stimulus checks ahead of runoff

Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) on Tuesday both came out in favor of increasing direct payments in the coronavirus relief package from $600 to $2,000 per person.

Why it matters: The two Republican senators are on the ballot in a pair of runoffs in Georgia next week that will determine control of the Senate.

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

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.

Updated Dec 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

House votes to increase stimulus payments to $2,000 per person

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The House voted 275-134 on Monday to increase direct payments from its coronavirus relief package to $2,000 per person, up from the $600 checks that Congress had previously approved.

Why it matters: The measure is unlikely to pass the GOP-controlled Senate, but could further divide President Trump and Republicans ahead of the crucial Senate runoffs in Georgia next week.

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