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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) talks with reporters in the Capitol on Jan. 3. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that one of his first priorities in the 117th Senate will be to pass legislation that would send $2000 stimulus payments.

Why it matters: If Jon Ossoff holds his lead over former Sen. Perdue, Schumer is set to become the next majority leader with the power to steer legislation. The election has not yet been called.

What he's saying: "One of the first things that I want to do when our new senators are seated, is deliver the $2,000 checks to the American families," he said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

  • Schumer said that he looked forward to sitting down with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but that they had to wait until races are certified. "We have a lot of things to discuss," he said.
  • Both Ossoff and Sen.-elect Raphael Warnock ran on boosting aid to Americans.

The big picture: Sending increased direct stimulus payments to Americans was one of the major points of contention between Democrats and Republicans as negotiations stalled for months last year, amid rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

  • The latest coronavirus relief package provided $600 direct payments to Americans, despite President Trump and Democrats pushing for the increased amount of $2,000.

Go deeper

19 hours ago - Health

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 22 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.