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Pelosi presses McConnell to allow vote on bill for $2,000 stimulus checks

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals Senate investigation of insurrection falls short Ocasio-Cortez: 'Old way of politics' influences Manchin's thinking MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday pressed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhat the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship Democrats mull overhaul of sweeping election bill McConnell seeks to divide and conquer Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) to allow the upper chamber to vote on a House-passed bill that would send stimulus checks of up to $2,000 to most Americans.

"The Democrats and Republicans in the House have passed that legislation. Who is holding up that distribution to the American people? Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans,” she said at a press conference.

Democrats are seeking to raise pressure on the Senate GOP to vote on the $2,000 checks, which are backed by President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE

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The House approved the increase in a bipartisan vote, but the Senate GOP is divided on the issue. 

McConnell has floated the idea of tying the $2,000 checks to two other demands from Trump – an investigation of the presidential election and a repeal of a law shielding tech companies from certain lawsuits – but doing so would likely kill the bill given Democratic opposition on those issues. 

The battle over the checks could have repercussions in the Georgia Senate runoff elections on Tuesday that will determine which party holds the Senate majority.

Democrats see the issue as a political winner and have sought to turn the screws on McConnell given the GOP division.

“In blocking it, they are in denial of the hardship that the American people are experiencing right now, health wise, financially, in every way," Pelosi said Wednesday. 

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"Their lives and livelihood in many cases are on the brink. So they’re in denial of that need in denying this benefit. I do hope that in the days ahead, we only have a few days left in this session, that they will see the light and understand the suffering that is going on in our country.”

McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to Pelosi’s remarks. 

Democrats have sought to squeeze Republicans in both chambers after President Trump last week blindsided lawmakers by panning the recent coronavirus relief package, which was passed by both chambers of Congress and included $600 stimulus checks, and demanding Congress send him legislation to give Americans making $75,000 and under a check for $2,000 instead.

Pelosi and House Democrats seized on the remarks, noting that the party had been pushing for months for boosted stimulus payments, and looked to make the checks a top wedge issue within the GOP. 

The House Monday passed a bill to increase the amount of the checks in a 275-134 vote, with support from 44 Republicans.

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McConnell shot blocked the bill Tuesday and announced his intention to combine legislation boosting the checks with efforts to repeal Section 230, a 1996 law granting social media platforms protections from lawsuits over third party content on their sites, and form a commission to look into claims of voter fraud and irregularities in the November elections. 

Several Republicans, including Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFive years after the Pulse nightclub massacre the fight for LGBTQ+ rights continues Rubio calls on Biden to 'forcefully' confront Iran over movement of war ships Bipartisan lawmakers want Biden to take tougher action on Nicaragua MORE (Fla.) and Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyConcerns grow over China's Taiwan plans GOP's attacks on Fauci at center of pandemic message Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack MORE (Mo.) have supported the legislation, giving Democrats a chance to hit McConnell over blocking a bill that some of his own members back. 

Georgia Sens. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerHerschel Walker skips Georgia's GOP convention Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock 9 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022 MORE (R) and David PerdueDavid PerdueGeorgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock Georgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' Warnock raises nearly M since January victory MORE (R) have also come out in support of the $2,000 checks, which have become a top issue in the two Senate runoffs as they campaign to hold onto their seats.

Still, the majority leader was backed by a number of other Republicans who had expressed alarm at the cost of more than tripling the checks, including Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.), a vocal budget hawk.

“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,” Toomey said Tuesday evening.

Updated at 11:58 a.m.