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McConnell blocks Senate vote on $2K checks, hints at new package

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Screenshot 2019 12 19 09.51.51

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked a Democratic effort to bring legislation that the House passed Monday to increase the money in stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000, despite President Donald Trump and others demanding this change to checks.

Congress, after months of negotiations, had agreed on the tinier $600 checks to individual Americans as part of a compromise to push through the massive end-of-the-year COVID-19 relief bill that Trump hesitantly signed into law on Sunday. Trump, however, is pushing for Congress to increase the amount of money in these checks to $2,000.

RELATED: Trump Signs Covid-19 Bill: Announces Congress Review of Section 230

The Kentucky Republican, who has spoken little publicly about Trump’s demands, did not directly explain why he objected, but under the Senate’s rules, any single senator can stonewall attempts to schedule votes or pass legislation. Additionally, the Republican leader offered little to no indication of his plans going forward.

“The Senate will begin a process,” McConnell said Tuesday, also saying he intends to bring Trump’s demand for the $2,000 checks and other issues left on the table “into focus.”

A growing list of Republicans, including the two Georgia senators facing contentious runoff elections on January 5 in the Peach State, have stated they will support the enlarged checks.

“I’m delighted to support the president,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) on Fox News about Trump’s calls for $2,000 checks. In another interview on Fox, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) expressed that she also supports this move.

Most Republican senators, nonetheless, still object to increased spending.

Tuesday morning before the Senate’s session, the president reemphasized his demands, tweeting: “$2000 for our great people, not $600!”

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1343916418316824583

Both Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) attempted to get consent for the Senate to bring the legislation passed by the House on Monday up for a vote.

“We should not adjourn until the Senate holds a vote,” Schumer said, while making a motion to push the legislation toward a vote.

Moreover, Sanders, who’s leading a group of progressive senators who support the increased money in checks, will filibuster a vote to override Trump’s defense bill veto unless the Senate holds a vote on sending $2,000 checks to individual Americans.

“McConnell and the Senate want to expedite the override vote and I understand that. But I’m not going to allow that to happen unless there is a vote, no matter how long that takes, on the $2,000 direct payment,” Sanders said in a Monday night interview.

The democratic socialist from Vermont ultimately cannot prevent the vote to override the veto on the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). He can, however, stall it until January 1, making life harder for Republicans.

Separately, McConnell hinted that in a package he could bundle the $2,000 checks with a repeal of Section 230, which gives social media companies like Twitter and Facebook liability protections. When Trump signed the $2.3 trillion COVID-19 relief package on Sunday, he said the Senate would “start the process for a vote” that deals with the trio of issues.

“During this process, the president highlighted three additional issues of national significance he would like to see Congress tackle together,” McConnell said Tuesday.

“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.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Biden spends $1.65 trillion taxpayer dollars while vacationing in St. Croix

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Joe Biden

While vacationing in the island of St. Croix for the holidays, President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law the massive $1.65 omnibus spending package.

The whopping 4,155 pages was supported by only nine House Republicans and 13 Senate Republicans. Majority of criticism from the GOP includes concerns that the bill was rushed and crammed with wasteful spending by a lame-duck Democratic-dominated Congress. The recourse will punish American families by adding to the national debt and exacerbate inflation.

“Today, I signed the bipartisan omnibus bill, ending a year of historic progress. It’ll invest in medical research, safety, veteran health care, disaster recovery, VAWA funding — and gets crucial assistance to Ukraine,” Biden tweeted. “Looking forward to more in 2023.”

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell “praised the bill on the grounds that it represents a real decrease in discretionary spending. He presented it as a positive that nondefense spending jumped by only 5.5 percent, from $730 billion to $772.5 billion, amid an inflation rate of 7.1 percent” writes National Review.

“The bipartisan government-funding bill that Senators Shelby and Leahy have finished negotiating does exactly the opposite of what the Biden administration first proposed,” he said. “This bill provides a substantial real-dollar increase to the defense baseline . . . and a substantial real-dollar cut to the non-defense, non-veterans baseline,” McConnell insisted as negotiations were wrapping up.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, however, stated his strong disapproval of the bill before it even advanced. Affirming a letter from 13 House Republicans, McCarthy demanded the bill is reckless, irresponsible, and a “purposeful refusal to secure and defend our borders.”

For example, it failed to incorporate protections for Title 42, the pandemic policy that allows illegal immigrants to be expelled on a public-health basis, which currently hangs in the balance at the Supreme Court.

National Review adds, “The funding in the bill, which averted a federal government shutdown before the new year, includes an allocation of $45 billion in defense assistance to Ukraine. Some Republican priorities, such as Electoral Count Act reform and a bigger military budget, were nested in with Democratic appropriations, such as increased funding for Medicaid and food stamps.”

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