Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell again blocked quick passage of increasing stimulus checks to $2,000, calling the proposal – which was a key demand of President Donald Trump – “socialism for rich people.”
Thursday marks the third time McConnell has blocked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., from quickly approving a House-passed bill that would increase one-time payments from $600 to $2,000 in the COVID-19 relief package the president signed into law Sunday. The blockade all but ensures Congress will be unable to pass legislation increasing the size of the one-time payments, at least until a new Congress convenes next week.
The Kentucky Republican repeatedly bashed Democrats for following Trump’s demand for increasing the checks to $2,000 but ignoring the president’s two other mandates: Repealing key legal protections for big tech firms and examining the president’s baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
“Socialism for rich people is a terrible way to help the American families that are actually struggling,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday. “Let me say that again. Borrowing from our grandkids to do socialism for rich people is a terrible way to get help to families who actually need it.”
McConnell has instead pushed forward a bill that combines increasing stimulus checks with repealing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and establishing a commission to study voter fraud, two contentious issues that make the legislation unpassable to Democrats.
The Kentucky Republican declared Wednesday that the House-passed standalone bill to increase the size of checks had “no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate” and said the chamber would not examine these issues separately.
“The Senate is not going to split apart the three issues that President Trump linked together just because Democrats are afraid to address two of them,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “The Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democrats’ rich friends who don’t need the help.”
McConnell’s strategic push to combine the issues means increasing stimulus checks is highly unlikely to pass Congress, allowing Republicans to get out of a tough vote that would have either put them at odds with direct demands from Trump or relent on long-help objections to adding to the national debt. Senate Republicans had for months urged limiting the size of the aid payments, citing concerns about debt.
Schumer bashed McConnell again Thursday, explaining “this maneuver to combine all three issues is intended to kill the possibility of $2,000 checks ever becoming law.”
The New York Democrat offered for the chamber to take up all three issues separately, an offer that was ignored by McConnell.
“We have a chance at the end of his painful year to give Americans a reason to have some hope in 2021,” Schumer said. “The only thing standing in the way is the Republican Senate majority.”