Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected a proposal to increase US stimulus payments to $ 2,000 per person, saying the plan had “no realistic way forward” in the upper house of Congress.
The senior Senate Republican drew a clear line between himself and the incumbent US President Donald Trump on Wednesday, who said this week it would be a “death wish” for the GOP to reject larger stimulus checks, also supported by Congress Democrats.
The nearly $ 900 billion economic relief package signed by Mr. Trump on Sunday night included means-tested checks for adults for $ 600. But the president has continued to push for larger payments ever since. Earlier on Wednesday, he tweeted: “$ 2,000 ASAP!”
Mr. Trump’s insistence on larger direct payments puts him in a rare deal with Democrats, who have championed more federal spending to offset the economic slowdown resulting from the coronavirus crisis.
But Mr McConnell, who will retain control of the upper house of Congress for another two years if Republicans win at least one of two Senate second-round elections in Georgia next week, has withstood pressure from Democrats, d ‘a handful of GOP lawmakers and the president. himself.
He said the direct payments proposal of $ 2,000, which was passed this week by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, “would add about half a trillion dollars to the national debt.”
“The Senate is not going to be intimidated into sending more borrowed money into the hands of wealthy friends of Democrats who don’t need help,” McConnell said.
The Senate Majority Leader separately introduced a law that critics have called a “poison pill,” tying the $ 2,000 checks to efforts to repeal legal protections for social media companies and to conduct a formal investigation into them. allegations of voter fraud in the November 3 US election. As Democrats would not support the additional measures, the legislation is unlikely to become law.
Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, said Mr McConnell was packing stimulus checks with “independent and partisan policies.”
“The only way to get the American people the $ 2,000 checks they deserve and need is to pass the House bill and pass it now,” Mr. Schumer said, adding, “For once, Democrats are okay with something on President Trump’s Twitter feed. Let’s send $ 2,000, as soon as possible, to American workers facing the toughest and darkest days of the world. pandemic. “
Earlier Wednesday, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House, said Senate Republicans “seem to have an endless tolerance for the sadness of others.”
“I hope that in the days to come we have only a few days left in this session, that they will see the light and understand the suffering that is plaguing this country,” she said.
The current session of Congress is scheduled to end on Sunday, when the newly elected members are sworn in before Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46th U.S. president on January 20.
Before the end of the Congress session, the Senate is expected to overturn Mr. Trump’s veto on a key annual defense spending bill that funds the U.S. military. The president rejected the legislation this month after Republicans refused to endorse his demands to use the “must-pass” bill as a way to remove legal protections from social media companies.