Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked attempts on Tuesday to unanimously pass a measure for $2,000 stimulus checks despite the fervent bipartisan clamor from President Donald Trump, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and a broad majority of Americans.
The Kentucky senator objected following demands from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to push a quick vote on the direct aid to citizens, who are buckling under the economic pressures of the ongoing pandemic.
Speaking from the Senate floor, McConnell acknowledged that Trump “would like further direct financial support for American households,” reports Fox News.
On Sunday night, the president signed a $2.3 trillion economic relief package while lambasting the fact that the second-round stimulus checks would only be $600, rather than $2,000 per person.
On Monday, the House voted to pass a bill increasing the amount to $2,000, with the bill receiving 44 Republican votes, gaining the two-thirds majority support required to pass in the House. However, McConnell’s move on Tuesday prevented the quick passage of the measure.
It remains unclear whether McConnell will allow a floor vote on the bill, which he tied to Trump’s request to look into election security and his demands that Congress address Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides protection for companies hosting third-party content on their platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook.
“Those are the three important subjects the president has linked together,” McConnell said. “This week the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus.”
McConnell also objected to joint efforts by Schumer and Independent Vermont Sen. Sanders to urgently bring action on the stimulus checks. Schumer’s request likely would have passed on Tuesday afternoon, while Sanders’ request would have set the stage for a vote on the bill on Wednesday afternoon.
Sanders voiced objections to McConnell’s attempt to quickly move to a vote to override Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act.
“There are only a few days left in this session,” Schumer said, urging that the Senate prioritize direct aid to Americans in the form of the stimulus checks. “We should not adjourn until the Senate holds a vote on both measures: the NDAA veto override and the House bill to provide $2,000 checks for the American people.”
Under the House-passed legislation, the $600 checks would be increased to $2,000.
Those earning over $75,000 per year would get less money while people earning over $95,000 would get nothing. Married couples who file their taxes jointly would see their check amounts decrease if they earn over $150,000 per year, while the checks would zero out at $190,000.
The stimulus bill signed by Trump on Sunday would see a new $300 weekly supplement given to unemployed people while the Paycheck Protection Program would get $284 billion in new funding for forgivable small business loans.
Nearly 6 out of 10 consumers in the U.S. say that they have dealt with major financial setbacks due to the pandemic as of the end of November, according to a study from TransUnion. The study also found that 40 percent of those households say that their ability to continue paying their bills is reliant on them receiving another stimulus check.
The fight over stimulus checks comes as organizations have warned that the start of 2021 could see a historic crisis of evictions and homelessness across the country as a nationwide ban on evictions is set to expire at the end of the year, removing protections from some 30 to 40 million renters, according to the CDC.
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