In a move that all but doomed Congressional approval for $2,000 stimulus checks (up from $600), top Senate republican Mitch McConnell said he would not separate the plan for $2K checks, from President Donald Trump’s other demands: section 230 repeal and an election fraud commission.
“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. 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,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.
Over the weekend, the Democratic-controlled House approved a stand-alone bill to boost the checks to $2,000 from $600, as 44 Republicans prodded by Trump joined nearly all Democrats in backing the measure. But the Republican-controlled Senate has said it will not pass the checks without attaching other Trump priorities that Democrats consider toxic, and would sink any legislation.
The latest twist in this bizarre saga of Helicopter Money and government handouts came just as the Treasury Department started to send out the payments of up to $600 on Tuesday night. If Congress can overcome the thorny political dynamics to increase the deposits to $2,000, the government would later add on to the cash it already distributed.
On Tuesday, McConnell introduced the bill that would boost the payments to $2,000 but also repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides legal liability protections for internet platforms, and create a commission on voter fraud, something which Trump has pushed for as he continues to challenge the outcome of the November election.
McConnell’s gambit came shortly after he blocked Democrats’ efforts to quickly pass the $2,000 checks as has tried to balance a desire not to immediately add to the price tag of the $900 billion rescue package, while appeasing a GOP president who has fixated on sending more direct payments to struggling Americans, and jeopardizing Republican chances in the Georgia Senate runoff where the topic of $600 vs $2,000 checks has become especially sensitive.
Democrats – who were for the $2,000 check but against repeal of Section 230 and the electrion fraud commission – threw up all over McConnell’s bill as expected. Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, said Tuesday that tying other proposals to the direct cash measure “would be a blatant attempt to deprive Americans of a $2,000 survival check.” On Wednesday, Schumer said that the House-passed bill to increase stimulus checks was the only option at this point. Making other changes/additions “is way to kill the bill. Make no mistake about it.”
Nancy Pelosi also urged the Senate to approve the stand-alone bill before the new Congress starts at noon ET on Sunday, but this effort was promptly stymied by McConnell.
“I do hope that in the days ahead – we only have a few days left in the session – that they will see the light and understand the suffering that is going on in this country,” the California Democrat said of Republicans.
On the other end of the political divide, Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey said he will move to block a potential vote on the $2,000 payments. Delays could blow up any effort to pass legislation during the current session.
“It doesn’t make sense to have these universal payments. Any relief should be targeted,” he told CNBC on Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, adding to the absurdity of the situation, the Senate also has not yet voted to override Trump’s veto of the annual National Defense Authorization Act, something which the House did on Monday. And while McConnell called lawmakers back this week to do so, and the chamber plans to take procedural steps Wednesday to move toward a vote, it may not override the veto until as late as Saturday.
As reported previously, socialist senator Bernie Sanders, blocked swift consideration of the defense measure Tuesday as he called for a vote on the stand-alone bill to increase the direct payments to $2,000. Later in the day, he told CNN that “I think we have the votes to pass” larger checks if McConnell brings the measure to a vote.
As also reported yesterday, at least four Republican senators – Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue of Georgia – have voiced support for the bigger stimulus check (Loeffler and Perdue are campaigning in Jan. 5 runoff elections that will determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years, while Hawley and Rubio are considered potential GOP candidates for president in 2024).
Trump continues to push Congress to approve $2,000 checks after he threatened to veto the relief bill because it included too little direct cash to Americans. And even though he relented and signed the stimulus bill on Sunday, on Wednesday, Trump again tweeted, ”$2000 ASAP!”
Via Zero Hedge