After blocking a move by Democrats to deliver $2,000 to millions of Americans struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday introduced his own bill but included two poison pills Democrats are sure to hate.
The Kentucky Republican’s legislation calls for the repeal of Section 230, which grants liability protection to social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter, and creates the Election Assistance Commission, a congressional committee to investigate the integrity of U.S. elections.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called McConnell’s proposal a “cynical gambit.” The Senate is expected to take up the bill on Wednesday.
On Monday, in a 275-134 vote with 44 Republicans voting in favor, the House passed a bill to provide $2,000 to Americans. Americans making up to $75,000 would receive direct payments of $2,000 — an increase from the $600 checks in the coronavirus relief package approved by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump on Sunday night.
While McConnell refused to call up the bill for a Senate vote, on Tuesday he signaled he might package the $2,000 checks with a repeal of a tech liability shield and an election-related investigation.
“The president highlighted three additional issues of national significance he would like to see Congress tackle together,” McConnell said. “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,” he added.
At least four Republican senators quickly expressed support for the House bill.
On Monday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said he supports the $2,000 stimulus checks. “I agree with the President that millions of working-class families are in dire need of additional relief, which is why I support $2,000 in direct payments to Americans struggling due to the pandemic,” Rubio said in a statement.
“For months, Republicans tried to pass additional relief for workers, families, and small businesses — only to be rejected by Democrats at every turn,” Rubio said. “Remember, months ago Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and Democrats rejected the administration’s previous offer of $1,200 per adult and $1,000 per child. Thankfully, she’s finally stopped holding working families hostage.”
“I share many of my colleagues’ concern about the long-term effects of additional spending, but we cannot ignore the fact that millions of working-class families across the nation are still in dire need of relief. Congress should quickly pass legislation to increase direct payments to Americans to $2,000,” Rubio said.
Two other Senate Republicans in Georgia, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — both locked in tight reelection campaigns that will be decided Jan. 5 — expressed support for the $2,000 checks. “President @realdonaldtrump is right — I support this push for $2,000 in direct relief for the American people,” Perdue wrote on Twitter.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) over the weekend also expressed support. “Congress will vote on additional stimulus checks,” he tweeted. “Well done Mr. President!”
Trump on Tuesday ripped McConnell for blocking the House bill with $2,000 checks. “Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP. $600 IS NOT ENOUGH!” the president warned on Twitter. “Also, get rid of Section 230 – Don’t let Big Tech steal our Country, and don’t let the Democrats steal the Presidential Election. Get tough!”
Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP. $600 IS NOT ENOUGH! Also, get rid of Section 230 – Don’t let Big Tech steal our Country, and don’t let the Democrats steal the Presidential Election. Get tough! https://t.co/GMotstu7OI
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2020
On Wednesday, Trump wrote simply: “$2000 ASAP!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2020