On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked a vote on a bill that would raise stimulus checks to $2,000, which the Democrat-led House passed easily Monday night.
That means it's uncertain whether the Senate will vote on $2,000 stimulus checks as a standalone bill by the end of the year, though it’s still possible the measure could come to the floor as part of other legislation.
On the floor Tuesday, McConnell said the Senate would “begin a process” to consider the three priorities that President Trump laid out when signing the pandemic relief bill Sunday night: $2,000 checks, reexamining legal protections for big tech companies such as Twitter and Facebook and a closer look at election fraud.
The GOP leader filed new legislation late Tuesday linking the president’s demand for bigger checks with two other Trump priorities — restrictions on tech companies like Facebook or Twitter that the president complained are unfair to conservatives as well as the establishment of a new commission to review the presidential election. Though he moved to add it to the calendar, McConnell has not promised a vote on the new bill or a vote on the House-passed measure to approve $2,000 checks.
Trump criticized the majority leader in a Twitter post following McConnell's objection earlier Tuesday: "Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP. $600 IS NOT ENOUGH!"
The president also reiterated his calls for a repeal to Section 230, a key component of the Communications Decency Act that shields websites from liability for content posted by the platform’s users, as well as false claims about the 2020 election.
It’s highly possible that McConnell will set up votes ahead on both the House-passed measure supporting Trump’s $2,000 checks as well as his own new version linking it with the tech company reforms and the presidential election review.
It’s a process that almost ensures neither bill will pass.
McConnell blocked two separate motions to bring the bill on $2,000 checks to the floor Tuesday, one from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and another from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
“Senate Democrats strongly support $2,000 checks," Schumer said. "Even President Trump supports $2,000 checks. There’s one question left today: Do Senate Republicans join with the rest of America in supporting $2,000 checks?”
"The House did the right thing. I congratulate them, and now it is time for the Senate to step up to the plate and do what the working families of this country overwhelmingly want us to do," Sanders said on the Senate floor.
On Monday evening, House lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help (CASH) Act easily Monday, 275-134, to raise stimulus checks for Americans from $600 to $2,000.
The vote follows urging from President Trump, who named the boost in direct aid as a condition for his signing the coronavirus relief bill negotiated by Congress.
44 Republicans joined 231 Democrats in supporting the measure.
In the $900 billion relief package that the president signed Sunday night, stimulus checks are set at $600 per individual, half the amount Americans received in April. Last week, President Trump held up the bill — along with a larger package to fund the government through 2021 — as he called for larger checks and a handful of budget cuts.
“As President, I have told Congress that I want far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people,” Trump said in a statement Sunday night.
On the floor Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on her Republican colleagues to follow the President’s call for larger payments.
“The President of the United States has put this forth as something that he wants to see,” Pelosi said on the House floor. “I hope that view will be shared by Republicans in the Senate.”
Both of Georgia's Republican senators, who are currently locked in tough re-election battles in Jan. 5 runoff elections, said they support President Donald Trump and Democrats' push for increased $2,000 stimulus checks.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler wrote to Twitter that she agrees with President Trump: "We need to deliver $2,000 direct relief checks to the American people."
Sen. David Perdue said President Trump "is right — I support this push for $2,000 in direct relief for the American people."
They join Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) in supporting increased stimulus for Americans.
"Working Americans have borne the brunt of this pandemic," Hawley wrote on Twitter. "They’ve been hammered, through no fault of their own."
On Monday evening, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) also said he would vote in favor of the bill, one of the few Republican lawmakers to publicly support larger checks.
“I share many of my colleagues’ concern about the long-term effects of additional spending, but we cannot ignore the fact that millions of working class families across the nation are still in dire need of relief,” Rubio said in a statement.
Larger checks have long had Democrats’ support, but the smaller $600 checks were seen as a compromise, since some Republicans prefer mean-based aid instead of universal payments.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.