Senate Republicans under pressure to approve Trump-backed $2,000 direct payments
Washington D.C. - Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was on the political hot seat Tuesday as Democrats and President Donald Trump pushed him to approve raising the amount of the coronavirus stimulus direct payments to $2,000.
After the House approved the move by a 2-1 margin, it moves on to the Senate, where McConnell could either allow a vote or let it die.
Trump (74) weighed in overnight on Twitter with a call for action from his Mar-a-Lago resort.
"Give the people $2000 not $600. They have suffered enough," the president tweeted at 1:53 AM.
McConnell (78), who decides alone what bills the Senate considers, has pointedly stayed silent about whether he will back the increase in stimulus payments or even permit a vote.
Some Republican senators, including McConnell allies like Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio have flip-flopped in recent days and now claim they support the $2,000 checks.
The measure will need the support of at least 60 senators, a heavy lift even with Trump’s backing.
Trump pressures Senate Republicans to support higher payments
McConnell has staunchly opposed spending more than the $900 billion stimulus that has already passed. In fact, he spent months refusing to even consider more expensive bills passed by the Democratic-led House.
Trump threw a wrench into the debate by initially refusing to sign the compromise bill that was negotiated between McConnell, Democrats, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
He derided the $600 payments as "a disgrace." But he caved Sunday night and signed it anyway while renewing his demand for bigger direct payments.
The House took Trump at his word and passed a new measure raising the payments amount to $2,000. The vote attracted support of a chunk of GOP lawmakers.
One procedural hiccup in the Senate involves Senator Bernie Sanders, who is demanding a vote on the $2,000 payments.
Sanders is blocking consideration of a separate move to override Trump’s veto of a must-pass defense spending bill unless McConnell agrees to allow the Senate to vote on the $2,000 payments.
Cover photo: imago images / UPI Photo