Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday blocked a request from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to increase coronavirus stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 with unanimous consent from the Senate.
Before signing the next coronavirus stimulus package into law, President Donald Trump asked Congress to increase the direct payments to Americans.
"I simply want to get our great people $2,000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill," Trump tweeted on Dec. 26.
In response, Democrats in the House of Representatives on Monday passed the Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help Act, or CASH Act, a bill to increase the direct payments by providing $2,000 per individual making under $75,000 and $4,000 for couples making under $150,000. In a statement given on why he would sign the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill that was paired with $900 billion in coronavirus relief, the president said that the Senate would "start the process for a vote that increases checks to $2,000."
On Tuesday, Schumer attempted to fast-track the CASH Act by requesting the unanimous consent of the Senate to hold an up or down vote on the bill.
Schumer: "An overwhelming bipartisan majority in the House supports $2k checks. Senate Democrats strongly support… https://t.co/Zrp75FWUjL— The Hill (@The Hill)1609263827.0
"The fastest way to get money into Americans' pockets is to send some of their tax dollars right back from where they came," Schumer said. "$2,000 stimulus checks could mean the difference between American families having groceries for a few extra weeks or going hungry. The difference between paying the rent or being kicked out of your home that you've lived in for years. It could buy precious time for tens of millions of people as the vaccine thankfully makes its way across the country."
During his remarks, he chastised Republicans for taking so long to consider an additional round of stimulus payments to Americans and criticized the initial compromise value of $600 checks.
"Of course, we could have taken up this issue weeks ago," Schumer claimed. "In the COIVD bill Congress just passed, Democrats wanted generous direct payments to the American people. Speaker Pelosi and I repeatedly asked our Republican counterparts how much they could support. Their answer? $600."
"$600 was the most Republicans would support," Schumer charged. But the Democratic leader did not mention several opportunities Republicans gave Democrats to advance direct economic relief payments to Americans with additional relief provisions.
When Republicans introduced their $1 trillion economic stimulus bill on July 29, Schumer declared his opposition to the bill — which included $1,200 stimulus checks — saying the GOP bill did not go far enough and demanding billions of dollars more to bail out state and local governments facing budget shortfalls. A day later, when Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced a competing stand-alone bill to provide $1,200 stimulus payments, Schumer ignored the legislation and it never advanced in the Senate. Additionally, when President Trump in October offered to sign a clean "Stand Alone Bill" for stimulus checks, Democratic leaders in Congress rebuffed the president's offer.
Now, Schumer says that passing the CASH Act is "the only way to deliver these stimulus checks before the end of session."
McConnell objected to Schumer's request, noting that the president also asked the Senate to consider reforms to Section 230's protections for big tech companies and additional election-related items.
"Those are the three important subjects the president has linked together. This week, the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus," McConnell said, seeming to indicate that the Senate will take up these issues at a later time.