Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell closed all doors on Wednesday on President Donald Trump’s pressure for $ 2000 COVID-19 relief checks, declaring that Congress has provided enough of a pandemic when he blocked another attempt by Democrats to force a vote.
The GOP leader made it clear that he did not want to go to bed, despite political pressure from Trump and even some other Republican senators demanding action. Trump wants the last $ 600 in aid to be tripled. But McConnell dismissed the idea of greater “survival checks” approved by the House, saying the money would go to many American households who just do not need it.
McConnell’s refusal to act means that the further relief Trump wanted is dead.
“We just approved nearly a trillion dollars in aid a few days ago,” McConnell said, referring to the closing package Trump ended in law.
McConnell added, “if specific, struggling households still need more help,” the Senate will consider “smart targeted support. Not another fire hose with borrowed money.”
The settlement between the outgoing president and his own Republican party over the $ 2,000 controls has thrown Congress into a chaotic year-end session just days before new lawmakers will take office.
It is a final departure, along with the violation of Trump’s veto power against a sweeping defense, that will puncture the president’s last days and deepen the GOP’s gap between its new wing of Trump-style populists and what had been the cornerstone of conservative views on government spending. .
Trump has annoyed GOP leaders and tweeted, “$ 2000 ASAP!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2020
Elected President Joe Biden also supports the payments and wants to build on what he calls a “repayment” on relief.
“In this moment of historic crisis and countless financial pain for countless American families, the President-elect is supporting direct $ 2,000 payments as approved by the House,” said Biden’s transitional spokesman Andrew Bates.
The roadblock from the Senate Republicans seems insurmountable. Most GOP senators seemed to accept the passivity even as a growing number of Republicans, including two senators in the January 5 by-elections in Georgia, agree with Trump’s demands, some cautious about bending him.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the $ 600 checks would begin expiring on Wednesday. Congress had decided on smaller payments in a compromise over the big COVID settlement by the end of the year and government funding that Trump reluctantly signed into law. Before he signed, however, Trump demanded more.
For the second day in a row, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer tried to force a vote on the bill, which was approved by the House, which meets Trump’s $ 2,000 controls.
“What we’re seeing right now is Leader McConnell trying to kill the controls – the $ 2,000 checks desperately needed by so many American families,” Schumer said.
With the runoff election in Georgia’s Senate days gone by, leading Republicans warned that the GOP’s refusal to provide more assistance as the virus worsens could jeopardize the outcome of these races.
Georgia GOP’s David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are trying to ward off Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in run-off elections that will determine which party has the Senate majority. The two Republicans expressed support for Trump’s call for more generous controls.
“Senate Republicans risk throwing two seats and control of the Senate,” former Congressman Newt Gingrich told Fox News.
McConnell has tried to protect his divided Republicans from a difficult vote. On Wednesday, he suggested that he had kept his word to start a “process” to deal with Trump’s demands, even if it means that no votes will actually be taken.
“It’s no secret that Republicans have a diversity of opinions,” he said.
Earlier, McConnell had presented a new bill loaded with Trump’s other priorities as a possible exit for the deadlock. The included $ 2,000 controls more narrowly targeted at lower-income households and a complicated repeal of protections for technology companies such as Facebook or Twitter under section 230 of a communications law the president complained about is unfair to conservatives. It also tackled the creation of a two-party commission to review the 2020 presidential election that Trump lost to President-elect Joe Biden.
If McConnell votes on his bill, it could revive Trump’s priorities. But since the approach contains the additional technical and electoral provisions, Democrats and some Republicans are likely to fight and it is unlikely that it will have enough support in Congress to cope.
No further votes on COVID support are planned at this time. For McConnell, the procedural movements allowed him to tick the box over the commitments he made when Trump defiantly refused to sign off on the big year-end last weekend. “It was a commitment, and that’s what happened,” he said.
Liberal senators, led by Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who support aid reinforcements are blocking action on a defense bill until a vote can be taken on Trump’s $ 2,000 demand for most Americans.
Sanders thundered on the floor that McConnell would call his own voters in the GOP leader’s home state of Kentucky “and find out how they feel about the need for immediate help in terms of a $ 2000 check.”
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Marco Rubio of Florida, among the party’s potential 2024 presidential jumpers, also pushed in the president’s direction. Hawley also leads Trump’s challenge on Jan. 6 to congressional election results.
Other Republicans went through the major checks and argued during a lively Senate debate that the price of nearly $ 400 billion was too high, relief is not directed at those in need, and Washington has already sent out large sums of COVID support.
Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Tweeted that “blindly borrowing” billions so we can send $ 2,000 checks to millions of people who have not lost any income is horrible policy. “
Considered a long cut, Trump’s demands gained momentum earlier this week when dozens of House Republicans calculated that it was better to link to most Democrats than to defy the outgoing president. They helped implement a bill that raised payments with a robust two-thirds approval.
As Trump’s crackdown erupts, his attempt to change the closing package – $ 900 billion in COVID-19 support and $ 1.4 trillion to fund government agencies by September – will linger as a potential final confrontation before the new Congress swore on Sunday.
The COVID-19 portion of the bill revives a weekly unemployment benefit pandemic – this time $ 300 through March 14 – as well as the popular paycheck protection program of grants to companies to keep workers on payroll. It expands deportation protection and adds a new fund for rent support.
Americans earning up to $ 75,000 will qualify for direct $ 600 payments, which will be phased out at higher income levels, and there is an additional $ 600 payment per dependent child.