McConnell Blocks $2,000 Stimulus Check Vote

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Americans were holding out for a higher payday, but the Senate Majority Leader isn't having it.

Americans have been desperate for financial relief in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The last dose of relief came in the spring, when the CARES Act gave the public a round of direct stimulus checks worth $1,200 apiece. But the latest relief bill isn't nearly as generous, with stimulus checks coming in at just $600.

President Donald Trump actually blasted lawmakers for being stingy with those stimulus checks and called for $2,000 payments instead. The House voted in favor of a bill to increase the second stimulus checks this week. But the measure still needs to pass the Senate. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is doing everything in his power to prevent that from happening.

Yesterday, McConnell blocked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's attempt to increase direct stimulus payments to $2,000 by a unanimous vote. The Senate could still vote on the bill, but it's unclear exactly when that would happen. McConnell also proposed rolling the $2,000 check in with other less popular moves, such as an election commission and liability protection.

In the meantime, Americans will be left without additional aid.

It's all about the money

Lawmakers haggled over the details of a second relief package for months and cost was a big point of contention all along. Democrats wanted to go big on spending while Republicans looked to cut costs and keep the price tag to a minimum. It's estimated that adding $2,000 direct stimulus payments to the mix will increase the cost of the new bill by $464 billion. And that's something McConnell is unlikely to be happy about.

Still, it's clear that Americans really need the help, and for many, a mere $600 check isn't going to cut it. Countless people have seen their income take a major hit in the course of the pandemic. Millions have been forced to file for unemployment. And those who were fortunate enough to have savings at the start of the crisis may have, at this point, depleted their bank accounts.

Of course, the latest relief bill doesn't only include $600 stimulus payments. It also includes boosted unemployment, rental assistance, and a second round of forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The PPP loans are designed to both save small businesses from permanent closure and prevent additional job loss. A $600 stimulus payment is certainly better than nothing (a bill that did not include any direct stimulus cash was actually on the table at one point). But ultimately, slashing the value of the first check in half is a slap in the face to the millions who are struggling.

To be clear, at this point, those $2,000 stimulus checks aren't off the table. But a quick vote on the matter is. And seeing as how badly Americans need relief, that's not a good thing.

A number of Republican senators have indicated that they're in favor of increasing the amount of this latest stimulus check. The question is: When will a vote actually happen, and will there be enough supporters of those $2,000 checks to make them a reality?

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