$2,000 Stimulus Check Deal Likely Dead as McConnell Tells Senate There's 'No Realistic' Path

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled the likely death of discussions over providing Americans with another $2,000 coronavirus relief check, telling colleagues he sees "no realistic path" to ending an impasse over the proposal backed by President Donald Trump before the end of the year.

"The Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democrat rich friends who don't need the help," McConnell said from the Senate floor Wednesday. "We just approved almost a trillion dollars in aid a few days ago. It struck a balance between broad support for all kinds of households and a lot more targeted relief for those who need help the most."

Negotiations are continuing, but McConnell and other GOP Senate leaders took turns Wednesday bashing the idea of another round of stimulus payments after a $9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that included $600 payments was signed into law on Sunday.

"As they try to do countless times in the past four years, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer are trying to pull a fast one on the president and the American people," McConnell said.

Trump has spent recent days pushing for Congress to fast-track another wave of larger direct stimulus payments, with support from Democrats. Wednesday morning, before the Senate convened, he tweeted "$2000 ASAP!"

The Democrat-controlled U.S. House passed the measure on Monday, before ending its term.

But McConnell has argued that Democrats must agree to two other proposals from Trump—a repeal of the Section 230, which is a rule that gives social media outlets, message boards, blogger sites and other online publishing companies cover from liability over what their users write; plus an investigation into election fraud, which Trump has claimed, without proof, is why he lost the November 3 election to President-elect Joe Biden.

McConnell has tried to tie those two items to the latest stimulus payments.

"That was the commitment," McConnell said. "House and Senate Democrats want something very different."

The stimulus payments are backed by some Republicans in the Senate, so Democratic leaders in the chamber have argued that they want a straight vote before attempting any further negotiations over the unrelated provisions.

"Yes or no? Up or down? Do you support sending $2,000 to the American people or not?" Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, of New York, said from the floor. "Let's have the vote."

McConnell has used procedural moves to block the stimulus package that passed the House from coming up for a vote. He also mocked the phrase that Democrats have used in their arguments in favor of the direct payments, arguing that the income limits in the House version of the bill—$75,000 for individuals or $150,000 for couples—were set too high.

"Democratic leaders want to call this scheme, 'survival checks.' Only my friends Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Leader [Schumer], could look at households in New York and California who make $300,000 and households where nobody has been laid off, where earnings did not even drop during the past year and conclude these rich constituents of theirs need 'survival checks' financed by taxpayer dollars and borrowed money."

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont stood on the Senate floor with a giant printout of Trump's tweet from earlier Wednesday.

"On this issue, amazingly enough, the president is right," he said.

Mitch Mcconnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, walks to his office from the Senate Floor at the U.S. Capitol on December 18. McConnell has used procedural moves to block the stimulus package that passed the House from coming up for a vote. SAUL LOEB / AFP/Getty