Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) heads to the Senate floor of the Capitol building on December 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. McConnell said today the Senate would “begin a process” to consider bigger Covid-19 relief, from the recently passed $600 per person to $2,000. (Photo: Tasos Katopidis/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) heads to the Senate floor in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on December 30, 2020. (Photo: Tasos Katopidis/Getty Images)

As New Jobless Figures Show 'Massive Pain on the Eve of the New Year,' Dems Rip McConnell for Stonewalling $2,000 Relief Checks

"It's more than a stimulus check," admonished Rep. Barbara Lee. "It's a survival check." 

Brett Wilkins

As new figures showed 1.1 million new Americans filed for federal unemployment aid last week, Democratic lawmakers on Thursday took Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to task for his refusal to swiftly pass a House-approved measure to issue $2,000 stimulus checks to struggling workers.

"Another week, another nearly one million people losing their jobs—another clear reason $2,000 survival checks are urgently needed. Let's get people real relief now."
—Rep. Pramila Jayapal

According to the latest U.S. Labor Department statistics (pdf), 787,000 Americans filed first-time jobless assistance claims during the week ending December 26, including seasonal adjustments. An additional 308,262 people applied for aid under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides assistance for people including so-called gig economy workers who don't qualify for government benefits. 

In stark contrast, 220,000 people filed (pdf) first-time unemployment claims during the same period last year. Ten months into the coronavirus pandemic, more than 19.5 million Americans are claiming some form of unemployment assistance in a year in which "for 41 weeks in a row the country has seen more new jobless claims than in any week before 2020," according to Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).

Despite the staggering scope of the pandemic-driven unemployment crisis, McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday continued to reject the $2,000 stimulus checks—which the House approved in a stand-alone bill on Monday—as "socialism for the rich." This followed remarks on Wednesday in which McConnell asserted that "the Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democrats' rich friends that don't need the help."

McConnell's stimulus stonewalling came as senators of both parties joined the majority leader in moving to override President Donald Trump's veto of the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act. Only five Senate Democrats—Ed Markey (Mass.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), and Ron Wyden (Ore.)—voted against Wednesday's motion to proceed, as did Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

With the fresh jobless figures in mind, Democratic lawmakers urged McConnell to decouple the $2,000 checks from unrelated demands by Trump—who also says he favors the stimulus payments.

"We're in the middle of an unprecedented crisis in our country," stressed Markey. "We have a healthcare crisis. We have an unemployment crisis. We have a hunger crisis. We have a housing crisis... The United States government should be responding to the needs, to the desperation, of families in our country at this time."

Other Democrats expressed similar sentiments: 

McConnell's remarks also drew stinging rebuke from Sanders, who after reminding the majority leader on Wednesday that "10 out of the poorest 25 counties in the United States of America are located in Kentucky," sarcastically said on Thursday that he was "delighted that after talking on the floor of the Senate for years about socialism for the rich," his Republican colleagues finally understood the issue. 

"All of a sudden Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are worried that someone in America might get a $2,000 check 'who doesn't need it,'" Sanders tweeted Wednesday. "Funny, they had no problem giving a $1.4 billion tax break to Charles Koch and his family with a net worth of $113 billion. What hypocrisy!"


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

In Landslide 1,108-to-387 Vote, Maine Nurses Reject Effort to Decertify Their Union

"They thought because we were a new union, they could manipulate Maine Med nurses and overturn our 2021 election," said one nurse. "But we just showed them the door."

Jake Johnson ·


Dems Threaten to Subpoena FTI Consulting Over 'Blanket Refusal' to Provide Info on Fossil Fuel Work

"FTI's refusal to cooperate with this congressional inquiry shows that they have something to hide, which will reveal the dangerous ways agencies like theirs have promoted fossil fuel greenwash and misinformation," said the Clean Creatives campaign's leader.

Jessica Corbett ·


Bad Day for DeSantis as 'Stop WOKE Act' Hit With Injunction, Lawsuit

"If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case," a federal judge wrote in blocking part of the controversial law. "But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents."

Brett Wilkins ·


US Judge Says Mar-a-Lago Affidavit 'Can Be Unsealed' With Redactions

"This is going to be a considered, careful process, where everybody's rights, the government's and the media's, will be protected," declared U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.

Jessica Corbett ·


Federal Judge Orders Starbucks to Rehire Fired Union Organizers in Memphis

"It was a ruling in favor of what's right," said one member of the Memphis Seven. "We knew from day one that we were going to win this, it just took time."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo