WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) — The Senate returned Wednesday with pressure from Democrats and President Donald Trump to boost the direct payments in the year-end coronavirus relief bill to $2,000. The House passed a standalone bill this week to do that, but so far Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not scheduled a vote in the Senate.
“I am very confident it would pass if it is put on the floor,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Schumer says a number of Republicans in the Senate have said they support the pay increase including the president, who tweeted early Wednesday “$2000 ASAP!”
“But what we are seeing right now is Leader McConnell trying to kill the checks,” Schumer said.
Wednesday, Schumer moved again to pass the $2,000 checks by unanimous consent, which means the bill would advance if no other senator objected — and, again, McConnell objected.
Instead, McConnell introduced a bill that would tie the checks to other priorities for President Trump.
“Larger direct checks, repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and further efforts to review the integrity of our democracy. Three of the president’s priorities in one Senate process,” McConnell explained.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) says McConnell is trying to attach an unrelated measure he knows Democrats don’t support.
“If he is going to slow down or try to put in a substitute on this measure, it is dead. Just dead. And he is personally responsible for it,” Durbin said.
There’s not a lot of time left to get it done. The new members of Congress are sworn in on Sunday at noon.