Second stimulus check update: You’re not getting $2,000. Senate Republicans blocked Trump’s request again.

Posted Jan 01, 2021

You won’t be getting a $2,000 stimulus payment after Republicans on Friday blocked a final request for a vote despite President Donald Trump’s call for larger checks.

The Senate then prepared to adjourn after overriding Trump’s veto of the defense policy bill.

GOP lawmakers blocked Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer’s final effort to get the chamber to take up the House-passed bill increasing the payments in the coronavirus stimulus package from $600 to $2,000.

The unusual New Year’s Day session took place as Senate Democrats prevented the chamber from wrapping up its work for days while demanding votes on the higher checks. The clock ran out on them Friday after the 81-13 vote overriding Trump’s veto on the defense bill, which included support for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and a pay raise for U.S. troops.

It was the first time Congress overrode one of Trump’s vetoes. Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker was one of the 13 senators who voted no.

Regarding the $2,000 stimulus payments, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., complained that some of the checks would go to wealthier households.

“A huge chunk would essentially be socialism for rich people — money flowing to households earning well into six figures who did not lose any jobs or income last year,” he said on the Senate floor. “The House Democrats’ bill is just simply not the right approach.”

Calculations by the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget said that a family of four, which would start with $8,000 in stimulus checks, could earn up to $310,000 before the entire payment would end. For a family with five children, the cutoff would be $430,000.

But U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said the Tax Policy Center, a research group, calculated that the richest 5% of Americans would get just 1% of the direct payments.

Sanders said Republicans had no problem in 2017 passing a tax cut bill that independent studies showed gave most of its benefits to corporations and the rich while the Congressional Budget Office said it would increase the federal deficit by $1.9 trillion over 10 years.

In addition, at the insistence of Senate Republicans, the $2 trillion stimulus law known as the CARES Act included a tax break that the Joint Committee on Taxation said gave 82 percent of its benefits to taxpayers making more than $1 million a year.

“It’s OK if the Republican leader wants to call direct assistance to American people ‘poorly targeted’ and ‘socialism for the rich’ — even after he drove the passage of a $2 trillion, across-the-board reduction in corporate taxes,” Schumer said on the floor. “But give us a vote. Make the argument, let the Senate work its will.”

“To me, it seems like the Republican leader is afraid to schedule a vote on $2,000 checks because he’s afraid it will pass,” he said.

Even as he signed a $2.3 trillion bill on Sunday, which included $900 million in stimulus and $1.4 billion to keep the federal government open through Sept. 30, Trump called on Congress to raise the $600 payments in the new law to $2,000.

He also wanted Congress to investigate allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election that have been debunked by dozens of judges and state election officials, and to repeal a provision enacted by a Republican Congress in 1996 that protected social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook from being sued for content posted on their sites.

McConnell introduced legislation incorporating all three provisions, but didn’t bring that measure up for a vote either.

Schumer said Friday he would support separate votes on all three demands.

“We have offered to vote on whatever unrelated issues the Republican leader says he wants to vote on, so long as we can get a clean vote on the House bill to provide $2,000 checks —the only way to actually make it happen in this year, this session of Congress,” he said.

Trump also insisted that Congress repeal the social media provision, known as Section 230, when he vetoed the bill setting defense policy through Sept. 30. His veto message also objected to renaming military bases that bear the names of Confederate military officers who took up arms to defend slavery.

But large majorities both the House and Senate overrode his veto, ensuring the defense policy bill would become law. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd Dist., was the only New Jersey House member who opposed the override.

“Here’s what the Senate is focused on: Completing the annual defense legislation that looks after our brave men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform,” McConnell said. “It’s a serious responsibility. But it’s also a tremendous opportunity: to direct our national security priorities to reflect the resolve of the American people and the evolving threats to their safety, at home and abroad.”

The 117th Congress begins Sunday and President-elect Joe Biden and congressional Democrats said they would push for another coronavirus stimulus bill.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-01-02 03:41:59 -0800