Senate considers voting on $ 2000 stimulus checks

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters after the weekly Republican Senate conference meeting in the Mansfield Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, December 1, 2020.

Tom Williams | Reuters

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday blocked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer from raising direct payments in the coronavirus relief annual report to $ 2,000.

The House – with nearly all Democrats and a few dozen Republicans on board – voted Monday to increase cash deposits from $ 600 to $ 2,000. Now Senate Republicans must guard against spending more on pandemic aid, or they must vote on a bill backed by President Donald Trump and Democrats while trying to hold on to their majority.

McConnell brought the chamber back this week with one main goal: to authorize Trump’s veto of the annual National Defense Act. He has not yet pledged to vote on the $ 2,000 bill.

Still, Democrats will try to force votes on the legislation.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent in Vermont who oversees Democrats, said Monday that he will block the veto government in the new year unless the House holds a vote or vote to make a direct payment to the working people in our state. of $ 2000. “

If the full Senate considers the stimulus testing legislation, all 48 Democrats and independents who speak to it are likely to vote in favor. It would then need the support of 12 of the House’s 52 Republicans.

The Treasury Department said payments of $ 600 would begin this week. If Congress approves the increase to $ 2,000, it will be added to the original amount.

Since some GOP senators are opposed to spending $ 900 billion in the latest aid package, they may not support adding $ 463 billion – the cost estimate of the Joint Tax Committee to increase checks to $ 2,000 – to the price not. Several Republicans like Sens. However, Marco Rubio of Florida and Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue of Georgia indicated that they would support the $ 2000 payments. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Who asked for $ 1,200 checks earlier in the negotiation process, could also vote for the increase to $ 2,000.

If he decides not to vote on the bill, the GOP will have to face the man who controls the Republican Party: Trump. He has repeatedly insisted on $ 2000 payments since threatening to veto the aid bill last week.

He said he wanted larger direct payments, along with less foreign aid funding in the $ 1.4 billion government funding package passed with the legal aid proposal. Trump conceded and signed the legislation Sunday night, approving pandemic aid and preventing a shutdown by the government.

In a tweet Tuesday morning, the president asked that “$ 2,000 for our great people, not $ 600!”

The votes in the House on Monday show that the GOP may have become more comfortable fighting Trump. Only 44 Republicans supported the $ 2,000 check legislation, while 130 GOP representatives voted against it. Republicans also joined Democrats to easily override Trump’s veto of the defense bill.

Sanders’ move to hold the Senate in Washington this week could also push for Georgia’s Republican Loeffler and Perdue in a major January 5 election. If the Democrats win both races – in which they have hammered the GOP senators for their response to the coronavirus – they will change Senate control.

The Democrats who participated in the contests, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, called the GOP senators’ coronavirus response inadequate and pressured them to support $ 2000 payments. In the Fox News interview on Tuesday, Loeffler and Perdue suggested they would support the larger checks.

“I have stood by the president 100% of the time. I am proud to do so and I have absolutely said that we must relieve Americans now. And I will support it,” Loeffler said when asked if the bill would vote.

Later on Twitter, she fully endorsed the $ 2000 payments.

Perdue told Fox he was “delighted to support the president” in his quest for $ 2,000 deposits.

Both have previously opposed attempts to send higher direct payments as part of the stimulus package.

The effort to increase the volume of direct payments comes amid great concern over whether the bailout package was far enough to help Americans pay for housing and food. For months, Congress failed to renew the financial lifelines of the summer pandemic, when millions began to plunge into poverty.

Before agreeing to the $ 900 billion package, McConnell insisted on about $ 500 billion in new spending. Democrats, meanwhile, have asked for at least $ 2.2 billion in aid.

The compromise package that the parties eventually reached includes direct payments of $ 600, half of what Congress passed in March as part of the CARES law. It also adds a $ 300 federal unemployment insurance supplement, half of the congress approved in March. The $ 600 weekly supplement for unemployed Americans expired in July after lawmakers did not renew it.

The new package includes $ 284 billion in forgettable loans to protect the Paycheck program. It also extends a federal eviction moratorium to Jan. 31 and creates a $ 25 billion rental aid fund.

The bill puts more than $ 8 billion into the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and more than $ 20 billion to provide it to Americans for free.

It also includes $ 82 billion in education funding and $ 45 billion for transportation. It has omitted any aid to state and local governments that are struggling if the pandemic continues.

– CNBC’s Hannah Miao contributed to this report