Schumer: $2,000 stimulus checks 'one of the first things we want to do'
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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who seemingly expects to soon be made majority leader, said that offering Americans $2,000 stimulus checks is one of his first priorities in the Senate.
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“It feels like a brand new day,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said, optimistic of two Georgia Senate victories in a Wednesday morning press conference.
If Democrats cinch both seats, the Senate would be split 50-50 and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would offer a tie-breaking vote. It would be the first Democrat-run Senate in six years.
Fox News’ Decision Desk projected Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock to win over Sen. Kelly Loeffler. The race between former Sen. David Perdue, whose seat expired Sunday, and Democrat Jon Ossoff is still too close to call, though Ossoff has claimed victory. Many of the uncounted votes are from Atlanta and its inner suburbs.
“I said what I said about the checks. It’s one of the first things we want to do once our new senators are seated, they campaigned on it.”
President Trump signed a combined COVID relief and spending bill in late December, but not before making 11th-hour demands for more money in stimulus checks. The bill offered $600, a number which Trump deemed “ridiculously low,” to most middle- and lower-class Americans.
Both Perdue and Loeffler backed the president’s call for larger checks, but President-elect Joe Biden said the checks would “never get there” if the Republicans won in Georgia.
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“Their election will put an end to the block in Washington on the $2,000 stimulus check,” Biden said of Ossoff and Warnock. “If you send Sen. Perdue and Loeffler back to Washington, those checks will never get there. It’s just that simple. The power is literally in your hands.”
Once Trump voiced support for bigger checks, Democrats seized on the opportunity and in the House put forth their own separate bill to add $1,400 to the checks.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has repeatedly blocked a quick vote on the increase, deeming the larger checks "socialism for rich people."
"The data show that many upper-middle-class Americans have kept their jobs, work remotely and remain totally financially comfortable," McConnell said. "On the other hand, some of our fellow citizens have had their entire existence turned upside down and continue to suffer terribly. We do not need to let the speaker of the House do socialism for rich people in order to help those who need help."
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McConnell later introduced his own version of $2,000 stimulus checks, in a bill that would also repeal Section 230, the controversial liability protection for online platforms, and create a committee on the Election Assistance Commission to study election integrity.
He made no promises that the bill would be considered, only vague comments that the Senate would "begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus."
Schumer demanded a vote on the checks from his Kentucky colleague.
“Just give us a vote on the House-passed bill, and we can vote on whatever right-wing conspiracy theory you like," the New York Democrat said to McConnell.
"President Trump couldn’t care less about how the bills are packaged in Congress," Schumer said last week. "The Republican leader [McConnell] has invented an excuse to prevent a clean up-and-down, yes-and-no vote on $2,000 checks coming to the floor."
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Schumer claimed McConnell’s refusal to vote on the issues separately was because he "intended to kill the possibility of $2,000 checks ever becoming law."
Fox News' Tyler Olson contributed to this report.
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