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McConnell again blocks $2K stimulus checks, says standalone bill has ‘no realistic path’

  • December 31, 2020

President Donald Trump also demanded Congress examine: Repealing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which allows certain legal protections for big tech companies, and establishing a commission to study the 2020 election after Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.

McConnell’s push to combine the three provisions in one bill is a methodical strategy that likely ensures increased stimulus payments will not pass Congress, as Democrats and Republicans view big tech protections and Trump’s claims on the election very differently.

“Here’s the deal. The Senate is not going to split apart the three issues that President Trump linked together just because Democrats are afraid to address two of them,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “The Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democrats’ rich friends who don’t need the help.” 

More:Fate of $2,000 coronavirus aid checks in doubt as Senate leader McConnell blocks immediate action

More:House approves increasing stimulus checks to $2,000 for Americans, sends bill to Senate

McConnell objected to a request by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to unanimously pass the House bill, which passed that chamber earlier this week, that would increase the stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000. He objected to a similar request made by Schumer the day prior and instead introduced a bill that combined the three key policies, though a vote hasn’t been officially scheduled on the proposal. 

coming at odds with direct demands from the leader of their party. Holding a vote on the measure would put senators on the spot to either reject Trump’s demands for increased checks or relent on long-held objections to adding to the debt. Donald Trump demands bigger stimulus checks in $900 billion COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress

Throughout his speech, McConnell made a clear case against increasing stimulus payments, citing liberal economists and newspapers that bashed the idea as unnecessary because the payments are not targeted and would also go to Americans who might not need them as much. 

Schumer took the Senate floor after McConnell and the New York Democrat made clear that McConnell’s proposal stood no chance of becoming law and was nothing more than a way “to kill a bill. Make no mistake about it.” 

“I want to be very clear about one thing. There is no other game in town besides the House bill,” Schumer said, noting the House had recessed for the year and thus unable to take up any changes to the measure. “The only way — the only way — to get to the American people the $2,000 checks they deserve and need is to pass the House bill and pass it now.”

Multiple senators said the impasse means increasing stimulus check money for Americans would not pass and the issue would likely roll over to the next Congress, which convenes on Sunday for the first time. 

Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican, said there did not seem to be time to examine the issue and negotiate a deal. 

“I don’t see…how we get back to it,” Thune said, noting the differing schools of thought within the Senate on each of the issues, including the GOP divide on increasing the size of stimulus checks. The South Dakota Republican said he was not supportive of the president’s demand. 

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was similarly asked whether the idea of increasing stimulus checks was dead for now. 

“I think under the circumstances, I think that’s likely true,” he said before bashing Democrats for not being willing to consider the president’s other demands. “[Democrats] want to spend the money on people who frankly haven’t suffered any financial losses during the pandemic and that’s just wasteful.”

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