U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters after the weekly Senate Republican Conference meeting in the Mansfield Room in the U.S. Capitol in Washington on December 1, 2020.
Tom Williams | Reuters
The Senate returns to Washington on Tuesday and is under pressure to increase the direct payments in the coronavirus relief bill to $ 2,000 by the end of the year.
The House – with almost all of the Democrats and a few dozen Republicans on board – voted Monday to increase cash deposits from $ 600 to $ 2,000. Now Senate Republicans, who are no longer willing to spend on pandemic aid, must decide whether to vote on a bill backed by President Donald Trump and the Democrats if they try to hold onto their majority.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Brought the Chamber back this week with a primary objective: to override Trump’s veto of the annual National Defense Authorization Act. He has not yet committed to putting the $ 2,000 payment bill up for a vote.
Still, the Democrats will try to force votes on the legislation. Chuck Schumer, chairman of the Senate Minority, D-N.Y., Said he would try to pass the $ 2,000 payments in the Senate on Tuesday. If he tries to pass the bill unanimously, a Republican will likely block the move.
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent Vermonter negotiating with Democrats, said Monday that he would block the veto-override vote for the New Year unless the chamber has “an up or down vote on the To make a direct payment of $ 2,000 to working people in our country. ” “”
If the entire Senate were considering the stimulus control legislation, likely all 48 Democrats and Independents meeting them would vote in favor. It would then need support from 12 of the Chamber’s 52 Republicans.
Treasury has announced that the $ 600 payments will expire this week. If Congress approves the increase to $ 2,000, it will be added to the original amount.
Because some GOP senators rejected the $ 900 billion spending in the final bailout package, they may not support the addition of $ 463 billion – the Joint Tax Committee’s estimate of the cost of increasing checks to $ 2,000 – to the price tag. However, several Republicans including Sens. Marco Rubio from Florida and Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue from Georgia have signaled that they will back the $ 2,000 payments. Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Who called for 1,200 checks early in the negotiation process, could also vote in favor of the increase to $ 2,000.
If it does not vote on the bill, the GOP will have to oppose the man who controls the Republican Party: Trump. He has repeatedly urged payments of $ 2,000 since threatening to veto the relief bill last week.
He said he wanted larger direct payments along with less foreign aid funding under the $ 1.4 trillion government funding package that was passed along with the aid proposal. Trump gave in and signed the legislation on Sunday night, approving pandemic aid and preventing the government from closing.
In a tweet on Tuesday morning, the president called for “$ 2,000 for our great people, not $ 600!”
The votes in the House on Monday show that the GOP may be more comfortable bucking Trump. Only 44 Republicans supported the $ 2,000 check legislation, while 130 GOP officials voted against. Republicans also joined the Democrats to easily override Trump’s veto on the defense bill.
Sander’s attempt to keep the Senate in Washington during the week could also hamper Loeffler and Perdue, the Georgia Republicans, who are voting in the crucial January 5 runoff. If Democrats win both races – in which they hammered the GOP Senators for their response to the coronavirus – they will flip control of the Senate.
Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who compete in these contests, have labeled the GOP Senators’ coronavirus response as inadequate and urged them to support payments of $ 2,000. In Fox News’ interviews on Tuesday, Loeffler and Perdue suggested sponsoring the larger checks.
“I stood by the president 100% of the time. I’m proud of it and have absolutely said we have to give relief to the Americans now. And I will support that,” Loeffler said when asked if she would help Correct bill.
Perdue said he was “delighted to support the president” as he pushed for $ 2,000 in deposits.
Both had previously resisted efforts to make higher direct payments as part of the stimulus package.
Efforts to increase the level of direct payments stem from widespread concern that the bailout has gone far enough to help Americans struggling to pay for housing and food. Congress failed for months in renewing the financial lifelines of the pandemic, which ended over the summer as millions fell into poverty.
Before agreeing to the $ 900 billion package, McConnell had been pushing for about $ 500 billion in new spending. Democrats, meanwhile, have called for at least $ 2.2 trillion in aid.
The compromise package that the parties eventually reached includes $ 600 in direct payments, half of what Congress passed under the CARES bill in March. It also adds a $ 300 unemployment insurance surcharge, half of Congress approved in March for extended payments. The weekly US $ 600 surcharge expired in July after lawmakers failed to renew it.
The new package includes $ 284 billion in loans for the Paycheck Protection Program. It also extends a federal eviction moratorium through January 31 and creates a $ 25 billion rental assistance fund.
The bill provides more than $ 8 billion to distribute Covid-19 vaccines and more than $ 20 billion to be given free to Americans.
It also includes $ 82 billion in education funding and $ 45 billion in transportation. It left out any aid to state and local governments struggling with the pandemic.
– CNBC’s Hannah Miao contributed to this report