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Home USA Trump push on $2K checks flops as GOP-led Senate won't vote

Trump push on $2K checks flops as GOP-led Senate won’t vote


WASHINGTON (AP) — #Senate #Majority #Leader #Mitch #McConnell all but shut the door on #President #Donald #Trump’s push for $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks, declaring #Congress has provided enough pandemic aid as he blocked another attempt by #Democrats to force a vote.

The GOP leader made clear #Wednesday he is unwilling to budge, despite political pressure from #Trump and even some fellow #Republican senators demanding action. #Trump wants the recent $600 in aid increased threefold. #But #McConnell dismissed the idea of bigger “survival checks” approved by the #House, saying the money would go to plenty of #American households that just don’t need it.

#McConnell’s refusal to act means the additional relief #Trump wanted is all but dead.

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“We just approved almost a trillion dollars in aid a few days ago,” #McConnell said, referring to the year-end package #Trump signed into law.

#McConnell added, “if specific, struggling households still need more help,” the #Senate will consider “smart targeted aid. #Not another firehose of borrowed money.”

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The showdown between the outgoing president and his own #Republican #Party over the $2,000 checks has thrown #Congress into a chaotic year-end session just days before new lawmakers are set to be sworn into office.

#It’s one last standoff, together with the override of #Trump’s veto of a sweeping defense bill, that will punctuate the president’s final days and deepen the GOP’s divide between its new wing of #Trump-styled populists and what had been mainstay conservative views against government spending.

#Trump has been berating the GOP leaders, and tweeted, “$2000 ASAP!”

#President-elect #Joe #Biden also supports the payments and wants to build on what he calls a “downpayment” on relief.

“In this moment of historic crisis and untold economic pain for countless #American families, the #President-elect supports $2,000 direct payments as passed by the #House,” said #Biden transition spokesman #Andrew #Bates.

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The roadblock set by #Senate #Republicans appears insurmountable. #Most GOP senators seemed to accept the inaction even as a growing number of #Republicans, including two senators in runoff elections on #Jan. 5 in #Georgia, agree with #Trump’s demand, some wary of bucking him.

#Treasury #Secretary #Steven #Mnuchin said the $600 checks would begin to go out #Wednesday. #Congress had settled on smaller payments in a compromise over the big, year-end COVID-19 relief and government funding bill that #Trump reluctantly signed into law. #Before signing, though, #Trump demanded more.

#For a second day in a row, #Senate #Democratic leader #Chuck #Schumer tried to force a vote on the bill approved by the #House meeting #Trump’s demand for the $2,000 checks.

“What we’re seeing right now is #Leader #McConnell trying to kill the checks — the $2,000 checks desperately needed by so many #American families,” #Schumer said.

#With the #Georgia #Senate runoff elections days away, leading #Republicans warned that the GOP’s refusal to provide more aid as the virus worsens could jeopardize the outcome of those races.

#Georgia’s GOP #Sens. #David #Perdue and #Kelly #Loeffler are trying to fend off #Democrats #Jon #Ossoff and #Raphael #Warnock in runoff elections that will determine which party has the #Senate majority. The two #Republicans announced support for #Trump’s call for more generous checks.

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“The #Senate #Republicans risk throwing away two seats and control of the #Senate,” #Newt #Gingrich, the former congressional leader, said on #Fox #News.

#McConnell has tried to shield his divided #Republicans from a difficult vote. #On #Wednesday he suggested he had kept his word to start a “process” to address #Trump’s demands, even if it means no votes will actually be taken.

“It’s no secret #Republicans have a diversity of views,” he said.

#Earlier, #McConnell had unveiled a new bill loaded up with #Trump’s other priorities as a possible off-ramp for the stalemate. #It included the $2,000 checks more narrowly targeted to lower-income households as well as a complicated repeal of protections for tech companies like #Facebook or #Twitter under #Section 230 of a communications law that the president complained is unfair to conservatives. #It also tacked on the establishment of a bipartisan commission to review the 2020 presidential election #Trump lost to #President-elect #Joe #Biden.

#If #McConnell sets a vote on his bill, it could revive #Trump’s priorities. #But because the approach contains the additional tech and elections provisions, #Democrats and some #Republicans will likely balk and it’s unlikely to have enough support in #Congress to pass.

#No additional votes on COVID-19 aid have been scheduled at this point. #For #McConnell, the procedural moves allowed him to check the box over the commitments he made when #Trump was defiantly refusing to sign off on the big year-end package last weekend. “That was a commitment, and that’s what happened,” he said.

#Liberal senators, led by #Bernie #Sanders of #Vermont, who support the relief boost are blocking action on a defense bill until a vote can be taken on #Trump’s demand for $2,000 for most #Americans.

#Sanders thundered on the floor that #McConnell should call his own constituents in the GOP leader’s home state of #Kentucky “and find out how they feel about the need for immediate help in terms of a $2,000 check.”

#Republican #Sens. #Josh #Hawley of #Missouri and #Marco #Rubio of #Florida, among the party’s potential 2024 presidential hopefuls, also pushed in the president’s direction. #Hawley is also leading #Trump’s challenge #Jan. 6 to the #Electoral #College result tally in #Congress.

#Other #Republicans panned the bigger checks, arguing during a lively #Senate debate that the nearly $400 billion price tag was too high, the relief is not targeted to those in need and #Washington has already dispatched ample sums on COVID-19 aid.

#Sen. #Pat #Toomey, R-Pa., tweeted that “blindly borrowing” billions “so we can send $2,000 checks to millions of people who haven’t lost any income is terrible policy.”

#Considered a longshot, #Trump’s demand gained momentum at the start of the week when dozens of #House #Republicans calculated it was better to link with most #Democrats than defy the outgoing president. They helped pass a bill raising the payments with a robust two-thirds vote of approval.

#As #Trump’s push fizzles out, his attempt to amend the year-end package — $900 billion in COVID-19 aid and $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies through #September — will linger as potentially one last confrontation before the new #Congress is sworn in #Sunday.

The COVID-19 portion of the bill revives a weekly pandemic jobless benefit boost — this time $300, through #March 14 — as well as the popular #Paycheck #Protection #Program of grants to businesses to keep workers on payrolls. #It extends eviction protections, adding a new rental assistance fund.

#Americans earning up to $75,000 will qualify for the direct $600 payments, which are phased out at higher income levels, and there’s an additional $600 payment per dependent child.

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#Associated #Press writer #Ashraf #Khalil in #Washington contributed to this report.



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https://apnews.com/article/election-2020-donald-trump-legislation-coronavirus-pandemic-mitch-mcconnell-67359cd878664644b3da242d2f15a5d7

##Trump #push #checks #flops #GOPled ##Senate #wont #vote

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