Demands from progressive lawmakers and the public surged for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to urgently support and hold a vote on a bill that would boost coronavirus pandemic direct relief checks from $600 to $2,000 after at least two-thirds of Democrat-controlled House approved the legislation on Monday evening.
The measure passed the House by a bipartisan 275-134 vote but faces an uncertain future in the GOP-majority Senate, considering that McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to hold votes on previous House-approved Covid-19 bills for several months this year. The new bill to raise the direct payment amount comes after President Donald Trump belatedly signed a $900 billion relief package into law late Sunday, after criticizing the legislation and demanding $2,000 direct payments last week.
"The House passed a $2,000 direct payment for working people. Now it's the Senate's turn... Let's do our job."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
In a statement Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that "following the strong bipartisan vote in the House, tomorrow I will move to pass the legislation in the Senate to quickly deliver Americans with $2,000 emergency checks."
"Every Senate Democrat is for this much-needed increase in emergency financial relief, which can be approved tomorrow if no Republican blocks it—there is no good reason for Senate Republicans to stand in the way," Schumer noted.
"There's strong support for these $2,000 emergency checks from every corner of the country," he added. "Leader McConnell ought to make sure Senate Republicans do not stand in the way of helping to meet the needs of American workers and families who are crying out for help."
The House just voted overwhelmingly to increase checks to $2000. If McConnell blocks it, it will be a monumental betrayal of the American people.
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) December 28, 2020
NEWS: The House just overcame GOP opposition & passed the bill for $2,000 checks. Now it moves to McConnell, who represents one of America's poorest states that would be disproportionately helped by the legislation, and who may nonetheless kill the bill. https://t.co/cymwhYbPUo
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) December 28, 2020
Trump, in a statement announcing he would sign the $2.3 trillion package that includes $1.4 trillion to fund the government and $900 billion in Covid-19 relief, said that "the Senate will start the process for a vote that increases checks to $2,000, repeals Section 230, and starts an investigation into voter fraud."
The Hill reported that a Monday night statement from McConnell "made no mention of the legislative commitments referenced by Trump, and the GOP leader has not yet announced plans to bring up a proposal that would increase the amount of the direct payments."
Late Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—who has been pushing for $2,000 relief checks since March—said that "Trump must get Mitch McConnell and his Republican friends in the Senate to pass legislation to provide $2,000 in direct payments to the working class."
After the vote Monday, Sanders tweeted: "The House passed a $2,000 direct payment for working people. Now it's the Senate's turn. If McConnell doesn't agree to an up or down vote to provide the working people of our country a $2,000 direct payment, Congress will not be going home for New Year's Eve. Let's do our job."
At noon tomorrow, McConnell is expected to ask for Unanimous Consent to vote on the veto override of the $740 billion defense bill. Bernie will object until we get a vote on $2,000 direct payments. We can force the Senate to stay in session until the New Year. This is no bluff. https://t.co/DgRB6hJgW8
— Warren Gunnels (@GunnelsWarren) December 28, 2020
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Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) announced on Twitter Monday that he will join Sanders "in blocking the defense bill until we get a vote on $2,000 in direct cash relief. That relief passed in the House today with 44 Republicans voting for it. Senate Republicans must do the same and get the American people the help they need."
Democrats in both chambers also took to Twitter, pushing Trump to increase pressure on the Senate GOP and calling on McConnell to back the bill and hold a vote:
With that much House Republican support, there is only one path for McConnell - bring this bill up for a clean vote.
If he does anything else - like introduce his own $2000 bill with lots of added poison pills - then it’s just a stunt to stop the measure from becoming law. https://t.co/78aG1IUJRo
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 28, 2020
You know what Trump would do tonight if he really wanted the checks to be $2,000? Publicly support the bill and start calling Republican Senators to support it. https://t.co/O5LFcDBJV3
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 28, 2020
Final stretch, Mitch you got this! https://t.co/Lbj4XNGwPV
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) December 28, 2020
For months, we've organized for robust stimulus payments.
Today, the House passed a bill to increase survival checks to $2,000—an important first step to getting the people the help they need and deserve.
Now, we must continue the fight to secure recurring monthly checks. https://t.co/H6SYbwpD4a
— Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) December 28, 2020
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) emphasized that the House passage of the Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help (CASH) Act was a progressive victory, pointing out that "a few weeks ago, survival checks weren't even on the table."
"Then, progressive members came together and told leadership we would not vote for a bill that didn't include survival checks. Period," she added. "Today, we successfully voted to pass $2,000 survival checks in the House."
This post has been updated with comment from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).