Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that there was “no realistic path” for the Senate to quickly pass a bill that would increase the latest round of stimulus checks to $2,000, CNN reports.
McConnell said that the bill passed by the House on Monday to increase the direct payments in the $900 billion coronavirus relief package from $600 to $2,000 had "no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate.”
"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 said despite pressure from Trump to increase the payments.
Despite McConnell’s claim, the direct payments phase out for incomes over $75,000 and are not sent to people earning more than about $87,000.
McConnell said the Senate would not vote on a bill unless it also included the repeal of Section 230 that Trump demanded and an investigation into his voter fraud conspiracy theory.
Democrats block defense bill:
McConnell’s comments came as Sen. Bernie Sanders led an effort to block the Senate’s planned override of Trump’s repeal of the annual defense spending bill.
"Today the Senate was supposed to finish legislation securing critical tools, training and support for America's armed forces," McConnell said. "But the junior senator from Vermont had other ideas."
"The Senate will stay on this important bill until we complete it, one way or another,” he added.
Sanders can only delay the vote until Saturday.
"At the very least, the Senate deserves the opportunity for an up-or-down vote," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, adding that "there is no other game in town than the House bill."
Graham pushes Mitch on checks:
McConnell also drew some pressure from Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Republican ally of Trump.
Graham told Fox News that “if you had a stand-alone vote on the $2,000 check, it might pass” even though “70 percent of Republicans don’t want to go to $2,000.”
“I’m with the president on this,” he added.
“Here’s what I’d like: I’d like a stand-alone vote in the new Congress on the $2,000 check,” Graham said. “We have seven Republicans who’ve already said they would vote for it. We need five more. I think if we had the vote, we would get there.”
While McConnell wants to package Trump’s proposals including Section 230 and voter fraud, Graham urged McConnell to “give a stand-alone vote in the new Congress after January 3rd on all three measures.”