Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked a $2,000 stimulus check bill on Wednesday, saying that Democrats “quietly changed” what President Donald Trump wanted in the bill. He said Democrats were attempting “to let wealthy households suck up even more money,” and that they were trying to do away with a repeal of Section 230 and a review of the recent election.
McConnell started out by slamming socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for holding up the override vote on Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act.
“Remember, Senator Sanders spent this past summer literally trying to defund our military. Not my words, but the title of a piece he published: ‘Defund the Pentagon: The liberal case,'” McConnell said. “Our colleague authored an amendment to strip 10% of funding from our servicemembers and decimate our defense budget. The Russians aren’t cutting military funding. China isn’t cutting funding. But last summer, Senator Sanders and fellow Democrats, including the Democratic Leader, voted to make America unilaterally disarm and cut ours.”
“The Left took a break from trying to defund the police to try to defund our Armed Forces,” McConnell continued. “Their amendment went down in a landslide. But now our colleague from Vermont is again putting political stunts before the needs of our men and women in uniform. Our colleague says he will slow down this vital bill unless he gets to muscle through another standalone proposal from Speaker Pelosi that would add roughly half a trillion dollars to the national debt, which does not align with what President Trump has suggested and which has no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate.”
“Well, as I’ve said, the Senate will not let our national security be shoved off course. Certainly not by Senators who have spent years trying to gut America’s capabilities while our adversaries continue ramping up,” McConnell concluded on the issue. “The Senate will stay on this important bill until we complete it, one way or another.”
McConnell then directly addressed the coronavirus stimulus checks, noting that Trump signed the second largest rescue package in American history just a few days ago.
“Due to this pandemic and our massive response, we now have a national debt far larger than our entire economy for the first time since World War II,” he said. “But we knew our people needed more help. So Congress just passed another nearly $900 billion in emergency relief, targeted to those who need help most. A second round of payroll support to save small-business jobs, more unemployment aid, vaccine distribution money, funding for safe schools, and much more. In addition to historic amounts of targeted help, at the request of President Trump and his team, the package also included another round of direct relief checks to households — whether or not each household needs the help, whether or not their finances have changed dramatically this past year.”
“After Congress and the administration finalized the bipartisan bill, the president expressed interest in further expanding the non-targeted direct payments,” McConnell continued. “So, to ensure the president was comfortable signing the bill into law, the Senate committed to beginning one process that would combine three of the president’s priorities: Larger direct checks; a 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. That was the commitment, and that’s what happened yesterday when I introduced text reflecting just what the president had requested,” McConnell continued. “Now, House and Senate Democrats want something very different. As they have tried to do countless times in the past four years, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer are trying to pull a fast one on the president and the American people. First of all, they are hoping everyone just forgets about election integrity and Big Tech. They are desperate to ignore those two parts of President Trump’s request. Draw your own conclusions. And even on the question of larger checks, the Democrats have tried to warp what President Trump laid out.”
“Look, it’s no secret that Republicans have a diversity of views about the wisdom of borrowing hundreds of billions more to send out more non-targeted money, including to many households that have suffered no loss of income during this crisis,” McConnell continued. “COVID-19 has not affected all households equally. Not even close. It is hardly clear that the federal government’s top priority should be sending thousands of dollars to, for example, a childless couple making well into six figures who have been comfortably teleworking all year. Our duty is to get help to the people who need help. Like we did to an historic degree just four days ago.”
“But above and beyond that discussion, the Democratic leaders have broken from what President Trump proposed. They quietly changed his proposal in an attempt to let wealthy households suck up even more money,” he continued. “Speaker Pelosi structured her bill so that a family of four would have to earn more than $300,000 in order not to qualify for more cash. A family of three could pull in $250,000 per year — a quarter of a million dollars — and still qualify for some money. And Democratic leaders want to call this scheme, quote, ‘survival checks.’ Only my friends Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Leader could look at households in New York and California who make $300,000… in households where nobody has been laid off… where earnings did not even drop this past year… and conclude these rich constituents of theirs need ‘survival checks’ financed by taxpayer dollars and borrowed money.”
“Everyone sees the game here,” he continued. “These are the same Democrats who proudly block the entire aid package for months because they tried to hold out for special tax cuts for rich people in blue states. Now they say it’s a matter of ‘survival’ to send another boatload of cash to people making $300,000, regardless of whether they have experienced any disruption at all this past year.”
McConnell noted that recent op-eds from editorial boards at The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have reportedly dismissed what the Democrats were demanding.
“But, more broadly, here’s the deal: The Senate is not going to split apart the three issues that President Trump linked together just because Democrats are afraid to address two of them,” McConnell concluded. “The Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of the Democrats’ rich friends who don’t need the help. We just approved almost a trillion dollars in aid a few days ago. It struck a balance between broad support for all kinds of households and a lot more targeted relief for those who need help most. We are going to stay smart, we’re going to stay focused, and we’re going to continue delivering on the needs of our nation.”