Forced into the unenviable position of choosing between the tenets of fiscal conservatism, addressing the American people’s needs, and being perceived as defying President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told his colleagues that the Senate would address Trump’s request for $2,000 stimulus checks.
However, McConnell declined a quick vote on checks as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recommended.
Increasing the checks to $2,000 will cost the federal government an additional $464 billion. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in September that covid-inspired federal spending programs already increased the 2020 federal budget deficit to $3.3 trillion, a number expected to exceed the entire U.S. economy in 2021.
Still, increasing the value of stimulus checks is highly popular.
Per Fox News:
McConnell, R-Ky., speaking on the Senate floor acknowledged that Trump “would like further direct financial support for American households.” McConnell at the same time mentioned that Trump wants Congress wants to address Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides protections for companies that host third-party content on their platforms — like Facebook and Twitter — and that Trump wants Congress to look into election security.
“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.
Sen. Mitch McConnell objected to Sen. Schumer asking the Senate to pass by unanimous consent the $2000 direct payments bill that the House passed last night by 2/3 bipartisan vote.
— Jason Donner (@jason_donner) December 29, 2020
McConnell, who decides the Senate’s order of business, has likely already weighed the consequences of his decision on the looming Georgia Senate runoff elections.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Sens. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.; David Perdue, R-Ga.; Lindsey Graha, R-S.C.; Josh Hawley, R-Mo.; and Marco Rubio have backed the House legislation for $2,000 stimulus checks, which passed with more than a two-thirds majority Monday.
Seven more Senate Republicans would need to come out in support of the checks in order to break a filibuster and set the issue for an up-or-down vote. That would also depend on if McConnell brings the stimulus check bill back to the floor.