Mitch McConnell faces decision over formal vote to increase stimulus payments to $2,000

All eyes are on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday.After the House overwhelmingly...

Posted: Dec 29, 2020 9:10 AM
Updated: Dec 29, 2020 1:30 PM

All eyes are on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday.

After the House overwhelmingly voted to both override President Donald Trump's veto on the National Defense Authorization Act and to pass $2,000 stimulus checks, it's Senate Republicans' turn to navigate whether they're willing to cross Trump in his final days in office.

McConnell blocks Democrats' initial attempt to increase payments

McConnell's plans for the week were not immediately clear earlier Tuesday. The Kentucky Republican blocked an effort to quickly pass a measure to increase direct stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000, though the legislation could be voted on at a later time or date if McConnell so chooses.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, attempted to pass the change to the omnibus spending bill through a unanimous consent request on the Senate floor, but any senator can halt passage of legislation that way. McConnell objected to the request.

Still, McConnell also said on Tuesday that the Senate would consider three of Trump's priorities -- further direct financial support for Americans, reexamining Section 230's protections for technology firms and ballot integrity efforts -- this week. The reexamining of Section 230 came as Trump vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act over not including revisions to the law that shields internet companies from liability for what is posted on their websites by them or third parties.

McConnell's remark about bringing Trump's priorities 'into focus' was not a commitment to bringing votes on the issues. The standoff leaves action on the Senate NDAA override vote in question, and the majority leader might have to file cloture to overcome objections and set up the vote for later this week.

Bottom line: If McConnell announces plans to bring the bill increasing stimulus checks up for a formal vote, it could still take several days for that vote to occur given the procedural hurdles.

The dynamics

Remember that for months, one of the biggest sticking points in the negotiations over the stimulus was how much the package would cost. Republicans didn't want to spend more than $1 trillion. Some Republicans didn't want to spend more than $500 billion. The Covid relief bill that was just signed into law cost around $900 billion.

McConnell knows adding $2,000 checks to this bill would cost hundreds of billions more. In order for it to pass, McConnell would need 12 Republicans to sign on and right now, it's not clear that many exist. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, has said he'd back the payments. And Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, has been a strong proponent of stimulus checks. But, a vote on the issue would undoubtedly divide the Republican conference and force Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue to vote on the issue just days ahead of their runoff election. It would also expose members who vote no to the ire of the President, who has never taken kindly to being crossed.

Both Loeffler and Perdue said Tuesday they would support increasing direct stimulus payments to $2,000.

'President ⁦‪@realDonaldTrump⁩ is right — I support this push for $2,000 in direct relief for the American people,' Perdue tweeted.

'I've stood by the President 100% of the time, I'm proud to do that,' Loeffler told Fox News on Tuesday in response to a question about providing $2,000 payments, a position President Trump supports. 'I've said absolutely, we need to get relief to Americans now, and I will support that.' When asked directly by CNN at an event later Tuesday if she would support increasing the direct payments to $2,000, Loeffler responded, 'I said I would support it.'

A vote for $2,000 checks could also boost Perdue and Loeffler in their races. The provision is popular. And, even if the measure didn't pass, putting it on the floor would demonstrate to the President that McConnell tried, but the votes just weren't there. McConnell, as usual, has been seeking the input of his members.

It's also possible, and some Democratic aides CNN has spoken with are fearful that McConnell could tie a vote on $2,000 checks to a less popular provision making it tougher for Democrats to vote for. Remember, that Trump argued he'd gotten assurances that the Senate would also take up a repeal of Section 230, which protects web companies from liability for what third party users post on their sites. That would scramble party lines and make a vote on $2,000 checks much harder for Democrats to swallow.

NDAA

McConnell had hoped to bring up the NDAA override vote Wednesday. But, Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders has said he will block the measure unless McConnell brings up $2,000 checks, comments he repeated on Tuesday.

'The leaders of our country, President Trump, President-elect Biden, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are all in agreement,' Sanders said in a floor speech. 'We have got to raise the direct payment to $2,000. So, that is where we are right now in this historic moment. Do we turn our backs on struggling working families or do we respond to their pain?'

Again, we don't know what McConnell's plans are on checks yet, but if he doesn't make a promise to bring them to the floor, Sanders could force McConnell to run out the clock until New Year's Day on the NDAA veto override vote. Sources expect the votes will be there to override the NDAA in the Senate. It's just a matter of when. A delay could keep Loeffler and Perdue off the campaign trail just days ahead of their runoffs.

This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501652

Reported Deaths: 10024
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34353540
DeSoto32162408
Hinds31977631
Jackson24508383
Rankin22015390
Lee15596235
Madison14597280
Jones13867243
Forrest13461252
Lauderdale11998317
Lowndes11065188
Lamar10522136
Pearl River9547237
Lafayette8557140
Hancock7740127
Washington7443160
Oktibbeha7147133
Monroe6787178
Warren6706176
Pontotoc6677104
Neshoba6642206
Panola6542131
Marshall6476135
Bolivar6323150
Union605794
Pike5824152
Alcorn5676102
Lincoln5439135
George497479
Scott473098
Tippah470381
Prentiss469182
Leflore4663144
Itawamba4640105
Adams4592119
Tate4592111
Copiah448792
Simpson4448116
Yazoo444887
Wayne440072
Covington429094
Sunflower4240105
Marion4232108
Coahoma4168107
Leake408688
Newton381779
Grenada3711108
Stone360664
Tishomingo360092
Attala331789
Jasper330165
Winston314691
Clay308977
Chickasaw301067
Clarke292594
Calhoun279447
Holmes267987
Smith264150
Yalobusha234547
Tallahatchie228251
Greene219449
Walthall218764
Lawrence213140
Perry205956
Amite205256
Webster203046
Noxubee186840
Montgomery179657
Jefferson Davis172243
Carroll169338
Tunica160039
Benton149239
Kemper141941
Choctaw133326
Claiborne132837
Humphreys129638
Franklin120328
Quitman106528
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94734
Sharkey64220
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820312

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148731924
Mobile726221339
Madison52362697
Shelby37640350
Baldwin37266552
Tuscaloosa35120612
Montgomery34123740
Lee23540246
Calhoun22236488
Morgan20958378
Etowah19838500
Marshall18381304
Houston17394412
St. Clair16078339
Cullman15468293
Limestone15354199
Elmore15271286
Lauderdale14323295
Talladega13851283
DeKalb12664261
Walker11221370
Blount10207176
Autauga10048148
Jackson9877184
Coffee9211191
Dale8904185
Colbert8877201
Tallapoosa7093198
Escambia6778134
Covington6715183
Chilton6648162
Russell637559
Franklin5969105
Chambers5612142
Marion5010127
Dallas4979200
Pike4796106
Clarke475884
Geneva4575127
Winston4522103
Lawrence4327117
Bibb425386
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331664
Randolph329864
Butler326796
Pickens316584
Henry312866
Hale311688
Cherokee302960
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245375
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224847
Conecuh186353
Coosa180340
Lowndes175464
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138940
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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Tupelo
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Hi: 72° Lo: 47°
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Columbus
Clear
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Oxford
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High pressure will dominate our weather forecast for our Tuesday. This means we will see some good weather for our Tuesday. However, some rain and thunderstorms will be in our weather forecast down the line with some more low pressure in our area.
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