WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – Republicans in the Senate have blocked efforts to increase COVID-relief checks to $2,000.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NYU) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tried to pass the increase Friday which president Donald Trump has requested, but both attempts were blocked by Republicans.
Schumer said, “To me, it seems like the Republican leader is afraid to schedule a vote on $2,000 checks because he’s afraid it will pass. What a terrifying thought that struggling Americans would get some money to feed their families, pay the rent, and get on with their lives, pay the utility bill of that kindergarten kid or a third-grade kid who can’t even go to school because his family can’t afford electricity.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said many households are already receiving their $600 payments and described an increase as “socialism for rich people.” He told his Senate colleagues, “A huge chunk would be socialism for rich people, money going to households well into six figures who did not lose any jobs or income last year. The House Democrat bill is just simply not the right approach.”
Sanders said of McConnell’s argument, “But I would also ask my friend, where did you suddenly become a religious adherent about concerns of socialism for the rich when you gave 83% of the benefits to the rich and large corporations in the tax bill that you supported? Where was your concern about socialism for the rich when Amazon, owned by the richest guy in the world, got $129 million tax rebate? I didn’t hear much about socialism for the rich in that debate.”
Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri (R-MO) joined the debate during Sanders’ request for a vote and spoke in favor of the $2,000 checks. He said, “Now, we’ve had some back-and-forth on the floor today about how we got to the level of $2,000. We all know how we go to that level. The president of the United States said that’s the level he supported. The number originates with him. This is the number that he has asked for.”
Hawley was not able to persuade his Republican colleagues.