Sanders Delaying Senate Recess for $2K Stimulus Checks Could Undermine GOP Ga. Incumbents

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' expected prolonged attempt to push the U.S. Senate to vote for $2,000 stimulus checks, an increase endorsed by President Donald Trump from the original $600 stimulus checks Trump signed into law on Sunday, could have a negative effect on Georgia Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both of whom are running in a special election for their seats in January.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked the Senate on Tuesday to vote on overriding Trump's veto on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which details funding for all U.S. Defense operations. Sanders objected to McConnell's request. When Sanders stated that he wanted the Senate to vote on the $2,000 stimulus checks, McConnell objected. Sanders's move to delay the vote on the veto override could keep the Senate in session until January 1.

Massachusetts Democrat Senator Ed Markey said in floor remarks on Tuesday that he agreed with Sanders. "We should have a vote," Markey said. "It should be yes or no and we should do this before the end of this year."

In a Tuesday tweet, Sanders made plain the stakes of the vote. "Today @SenMarkey and I demanded a vote on $2,000 for working people," Sanders tweeted Tuesday. "It's simple—no vote, no new year's break for Senators."

Today @SenMarkey and I demanded a vote on $2,000 for working people. It’s simple—no vote, no new year's break for Senators.

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 29, 2020

Newsweek reached out to the offices of Sanders and Perdue for comment.

bernie sanders moves to halt senate recess
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said Tuesday that he was ready to keep Senate in session over the New Year's recess to force a vote on $2,000 stimulus checks. Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Care In Action/Getty

Remaining in Washington could keep Loeffler and Perdue out of the public eye during the days leading up to Georgia's January 5 runoff. Both Democratic candidates—Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock—have previously voiced support of the $2,000 stimulus checks. Loeffler and Perdue, both of whom have aligned themselves closely with Trump, did not express public support for the higher stimulus checks until Tuesday.

In a Tuesday interview with Fox News, Perdue said he was "delighted" to support Trump's call for $2,000 stimulus checks.

"This appropriation we are talking about right now, brings money for distribution for vaccines, for our hospitals, our schools, it helps us get our lives back to normal," Perdue said. "So, what the president is trying to do is to make sure that we get this done. He doesn't trust that there might be another step in another couple of months. He wants to get this done now."

"I've stood by the president 100 percent of the time," Loeffler told Fox News on Tuesday. "I'm proud to do that and I've said absolutely, we need to get relief to Americans now and I will support that."

kelly loeffler supports stimulus checks
Georgia Republican Kelly Loeffler said on Tuesday that she supported the $2,000 stimulus checks. Jessica McGowan/Getty

Both Democrat Senate candidates in Georgia have made the $2,000 stimulus checks a focal point of their respective campaigns. Ossoff and Warnock criticized Loeffler and Perdue's sudden support for the increased direct payments on Tuesday. "Perdue doesn't care if it's $600 or $2000," Ossoff tweeted. "He'd vote for $0 if it meant he'd win. And he'll just as easily change his mind the minute this election is over."

"You could have gotten a $2,000 relief check this week, if @KLoeffler hadn't stalled relief for nine months," Warnock tweeted.

You could have gotten a $2,000 relief check this week, if @KLoeffler hadn't stalled relief for nine months.

— Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) December 29, 2020

According to FiveThirtyEight, polling averages indicate a close race in Georgia. As of Tuesday, Perdue held 48 percent of support while Ossoff was trailing with 47.6 percent of support. Warnock was polling at 48.2 percent to Loeffler's 47.7 percent.

Many Georgians have already cast their ballots. Information from the U.S. Elections Project shows that 2,337,477 Georgia voters have participated in early voting, a number that translates into 30.2 percent of all registered voters in the state.

McConnell and other Republicans are counting on at least one GOP win in Georgia's election to retain control of the Senate. If both Ossoff and Warnock win their elections, then the Senate will be evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats would have an edge with the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would become the President of the Senate. Any tie-breaking votes would be cast by Harris.