WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — While a plan passed by the Democrat-led House of Representatives to send larger stimulus checks to Americans fell short in the GOP-controlled Senate Tuesday, more Republicans are voicing support for the measure.
Democrats have long been pushing for larger checks but Republican lawmakers have insisted they will cost too much. Then Republican President Donald Trump backed $2,000 checks, prompting more from his party to get on board.
“The House bill is the only way, the only way, to deliver these stimulus checks,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., insisted on the Senate floor Tuesday as he opened an unusual mid-holiday session, saying the $600 checks included in the most recent COVID-19 relief bill are not enough and calling on the upper chamber to immediately pass the House bill.
“There are only a few days left in this session,” he continued.
“The only thing that can stop $2,000 payments is 52 Senate Republicans,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., added.
They did stop it Tuesday, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who said he wants the Senate to stay focused on overriding the president’s veto of the national defense spending bill.
“We’ll continue our momentum in rebuilding and modernizing our armed forces,” McConnell said.
But more Republicans are warming to the idea of the larger checks. Georgia Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both of whom are still fighting for reelection in a Jan. 5 runoff, are among them.
And Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said the nation should not spend $740 billion on defense without doing more for Americans who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.
“They’re hurting,” he said. “They want help.”
He vowed to delay the vote on the veto override unless McConnell allows a vote on the checks. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., promised the same in a Tuesday afternoon tweet.
For now, the U.S. Department of the Treasury is moving forward with plans to distribute the $600 checks, with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tweeting they could start going out via direct deposit as early as Tuesday night.
If the Senate does OK larger payments, families would receive another check for $1,400.