Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked an effort to quickly pass a measure to increase direct stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000, though the legislation could be voted on at a later time or date if McConnell so chooses.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, attempted to pass the change to the omnibus spending bill through a unanimous consent request on the Senate floor, but any senator can halt passage of legislation that way. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, objected to the request.
The House passed the increase to stimulus payments on Monday with wide bipartisan support. Democratic leaders have cited President Donald Trump’s criticism of the $600 payments as too low and the GOP President’s push to increase the stimulus checks in their effort to pass the change through the Senate.
The measure could be scheduled for another vote in the Senate at a later date, and what McConnell will do remains unclear as of Tuesday afternoon. Many Republican senators objected to an increase in stimulus payments during negotiations for a Covid-19 relief package throughout the year, citing the growing price tag of the plan. However, multiple GOP senators — including two members facing runoffs in Georgia next week — have come out in favor of Trump’s push to increase payments, even after the previous legislation passed Congress last week.
McConnell said on Tuesday that the Senate would consider three of Trump’s priorities — further direct financial support for Americans, reexamining Section 230’s protections for technology firms and ballot integrity effort — this week. The reexamining of Section 230 came as Trump vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act over not including revisions to the law that shields internet companies from liability for what is posted on their websites by them or third parties.
McConnell’s remark about bringing Trump’s priorities "into focus" was not a commitment to bringing votes on the issues. The standoff leaves action on the Senate NDAA override vote in question, and the majority leader might have to file cloture to overcome objections and set up the vote for later this week.
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