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Pelosi presses McConnell to allow vote on bill for $2,000 stimulus checks

The Hill logo The Hill 12/30/2020 Tal Axelrod
a person with the mouth open: Pelosi presses McConnell to allow vote on bill for $2,000 stimulus checks © Greg Nash Pelosi presses McConnell to allow vote on bill for $2,000 stimulus checks

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday pressed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to allow the upper chamber to vote on a House-passed bill that would send stimulus checks of up to $2,000 to most Americans.

"The Democrats and Republicans in the House have passed that legislation. Who is holding up that distribution to the American people? Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans," she said at a press conference.

Democrats are seeking to raise pressure on the Senate GOP to vote on the $2,000 checks, which are backed by President Trump.

The House approved the increase in a bipartisan vote, but the Senate GOP is divided on the issue.

McConnell has floated the idea of tying the $2,000 checks to two other demands from Trump - an investigation of the presidential election and a repeal of a law shielding tech companies from certain lawsuits - but doing so would likely kill the bill given Democratic opposition on those issues.

The battle over the checks could have repercussions in the Georgia Senate runoff elections on Tuesday that will determine which party holds the Senate majority.

Democrats see the issue as a political winner and have sought to turn the screws on McConnell given the GOP division.

"In blocking it, they are in denial of the hardship that the American people are experiencing right now, health wise, financially, in every way," Pelosi said Wednesday.


Video: McConnell rules out quick vote on House bill for $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks (Reuters)

"Their lives and livelihood in many cases are on the brink. So they're in denial of that need in denying this benefit. I do hope that in the days ahead, we only have a few days left in this session, that they will see the light and understand the suffering that is going on in our country."

McConnell's office did not immediately respond to Pelosi's remarks.

Democrats have sought to squeeze Republicans in both chambers after President Trump last week blindsided lawmakers by panning the recent coronavirus relief package, which was passed by both chambers of Congress and included $600 stimulus checks, and demanding Congress send him legislation to give Americans making $75,000 and under a check for $2,000 instead.

Pelosi and House Democrats seized on the remarks, noting that the party had been pushing for months for boosted stimulus payments, and looked to make the checks a top wedge issue within the GOP.

The House Monday passed a bill to increase the amount of the checks in a 275-134 vote, with support from 44 Republicans.

McConnell shot blocked the bill Tuesday and announced his intention to combine legislation boosting the checks with efforts to repeal Section 230, a 1996 law granting social media platforms protections from lawsuits over third party content on their sites, and form a commission to look into claims of voter fraud and irregularities in the November elections.

Several Republicans, including Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.) have supported the legislation, giving Democrats a chance to hit McConnell over blocking a bill that some of his own members back.

Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R) and David Perdue (R) have also come out in support of the $2,000 checks, which have become a top issue in the two Senate runoffs as they campaign to hold onto their seats.

Still, the majority leader was backed by a number of other Republicans who had expressed alarm at the cost of more than tripling the checks, including Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), a vocal budget hawk.

"Congress should continue helping workers who've lost their jobs. But blindly borrowing more than $600 billion so we can send $2,000 checks to millions of people who haven't lost any income is terrible policy. I won't consent to a vote on that," Toomey said Tuesday evening.

Updated at 11:58 a.m.

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