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Senator McConnell blocks initial Senate request to vote on $2,000 stimulus checks

Posted at 5:01 PM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 18:16:55-05

(LEX 18) — Will the next stimulus payments be $600 or $2,000? That is the current issue being fought over in Washington, D.C.

President Donald Trump and Democrats are pushing for $2,000 payments to go out to Americans dealing with the struggles of the pandemic.

"As President, I have told Congress that I want far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child," Trump said in a statement Sunday.

The House jumped on the opportunity, as 44 Republicans joined 231 Democrats to pass the CASH Act, which would boost the $600 Americans who make under $75,000 are getting to $2,000.

Two of the 44 Republicans were from Kentucky. Rep. James Comer and Rep. Hal Rogers voted yes on the CASH Act. Rep. Brett Guthrie and Rep. Thomas Massie voted no, and Rep. Andy Barr did not cast a vote. Rep. John Yarmuth, the only Democrat representing Kentucky in Congress, voted yes.

But now, the bill is in the hands of the U.S. Senate, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the only one with the power to put the bill up for a vote.

On Tuesday, McConnell blocked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's attempt to approve increasing the direct payments by a unanimous vote.

McConnell said he brought the Senate back this week to tackle three priorities outlined by the president: larger direct payments, stripping liability protections from big tech companies, and concerns about the election.

“This week, the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus,” McConnell said on the floor of the Senate.

Schumer then called for the Senate to vote on both the defense bill veto override and the increased payments bill passed by the House in a process that would fast-track the bill. McConnell objected.

Senator Bernie Sanders then asked for a vote on the direct payments after the defense bill veto override vote planned for Wednesday. McConnell again objected. Then, Sanders objected to a Wednesday vote on the defense bill veto override. The move stopped activity in the Senate.

Sanders is threatening to withhold his consent for an earlier vote on the defense bill veto override until McConnell allows a vote on the increased direct payments.

“Let me be clear: If Senator McConnell doesn’t agree to an up or down vote to provide the working people of our country a $2,000 direct payment, Congress will not be going home for New Year’s Eve,” Sanders said in a statement late Monday. “Let’s do our job.”

Originally, the Senate was planning to vote on the override on Wednesday and then recess over the New Year's holiday until the newly-elected senators are sworn into office on Sunday.

If the CASH Act passes the Senate, the overall cost of the stimulus bill will go from $900 billion to $1.36 trillion, according to House data released on Monday. However, as things stand currently, most Americans who make up to $75,000 will only get $600.