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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., drew plenty of ire Tuesday when he blocked an effort by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to pass a change to the omnibus spending bill to increase stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000 through a unanimous consent request.
But like sausage making, legislating is not always recommended viewing. While some see McConnell as clever like a fox, his tactics have others up in arms. But was the GOP leader simply moving to meet President Donald Trump’s overall goals?
McConnell followed up on blocking the motion by introducing a bill linking $2,000 stimulus checks to a repeal of Section 230 and the creation of a commission to study election fraud — a move being dubbed a “poison pill” sure to kill the stimulus boost.
When Trump signed the $1.4 trillion catchall spending bill/$900 billion COVID-19 relief measure Sunday evening, he said in a statement that drew little attention the Republican-controlled Senate “will start the process for a vote that increases checks to $2,000, repeals Section 230, and starts an investigation into voter fraud.”
And McConnell’s bill does just that, providing for the boost, while delivering a full repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and the creation of a new congressional committee to investigate the integrity of the 2020 election.
It also puts the onus on Democrats to deliver on their much ballyhooed support for $2,000 direct payment checks.
The president responded to a Washington Post tweet reporting that McConnell had blocked the effort by Democrats to reiterate his goals and call on Republicans to “get tough!”
“Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP. $600 IS NOT ENOUGH! Also, get rid of Section 230 – Don’t let Big Tech steal our Country, and don’t let the Democrats steal the Presidential Election. Get tough!” Trump tweeted.
Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP. $600 IS NOT ENOUGH! Also, get rid of Section 230 – Don’t let Big Tech steal our Country, and don’t let the Democrats steal the Presidential Election. Get tough! https://t.co/GMotstu7OI
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2020
Convinced he can have his cake and eat it too, Schumer released a statement ripping the GOP leader while calling for a vote on the standalone bill passed in the House.
“Senator McConnell knows how to make $2,000 survival checks reality and he knows how to kill them,” Schumer said. “If Sen. McConnell tries loading up the bipartisan House-passed CASH Act with unrelated, partisan provisions that will do absolutely nothing to help struggling families across the country, it will not pass the House and cannot become law – any move like this by Sen. McConnell would be a blatant attempt to deprive Americans of a $2,000 survival check.”
“Will Senate Republicans go along with Sen. McConnell’s cynical gambit or will they push him to give a vote on the standalone House-passed CASH Act?” he added.
Democrats oppose the repeal of Section 230, which shields social media platforms from lawsuits over content posted on their sites by users and allows them to regulate that content, and a probe of voter fraud.
The stimulus increase issue is creating a fissure within the ranks of the Republican Party and could present the greatest challenge McConnell has faced as party leader.
Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., have said they will vote in favor of the $2,000 checks, but Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., have said that would object to such a move.
Toomey, who is not running for reelection, tweeted: “Congress should continue helping workers who’ve lost their jobs. But blindly borrowing more than $600 billion so we can send $2,000 checks to millions of people who haven’t lost any income is terrible policy. I won’t consent to a vote on that.”
Congress should continue helping workers who’ve lost their jobs. But blindly borrowing more than $600 billion so we can send $2,000 checks to millions of people who haven’t lost any income is terrible policy. I won’t consent to a vote on that. https://t.co/hCOlgcFPnq
— Senator Pat Toomey (@SenToomey) December 29, 2020
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