Senate

GOP senator says he’ll block consent for $2,000 stimulus checks

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.) on Tuesday evening announced he would object to a request to swiftly pass House-approved legislation to increase the amount of direct stimulus checks to $2,000.

Toomey is one of several Republican senators who would object to such a request, including Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), according to a Senate GOP aide.

“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 tweeted Tuesday evening.

 

Toomey announced he will retire from Congress at the end of 2022 and that he doesn’t have plans to run again for political office.

His statement shows that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is not the only obstacle to passing legislation approved by the House on Monday to increase the size of direct stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000. 

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Toomey on Tuesday said that “it’s a very bad idea” to significantly expand the size of the stimulus checks. 

“We’re talking about sending checks, the vast majority of which will be going to people who’ve had no loss of income whatsoever,” he said. “How and why does that make any sense at all?” 

Toomey said it would raise the total cost of the stimulus checks to two-thirds of $1 trillion.

He said sending out $1,200 stimulus checks in the CARES Act in March was “dubious” but defensible because the economy was on the precipice of collapse, a danger that has since receded. 

Democrats have sought to portray McConnell as the chief obstacle, but even if the GOP leader were to agree to an immediate vote on legislation increasing the size of the stimulus checks, which Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has demanded, it would still face GOP opposition.

“There is not going to be a vote,” said a Senate GOP aide, asserting that rank-and-file senators would throw up procedural obstacles to hold up the House-passed bill as long as possible. 

“There would be an objection from Toomey to considering it, and we’ve already had objections from Johnson. You can expect an objection from Paul. It’s just ludicrous that the Democrats are suggesting that we have by consent a vote on a $500 billion bill that sends $2,000 checks to children, that sends $2,000 checks to people that died this year and $2,000 checks to people who lost no income,” the aide added. 

Schumer on Tuesday sought to ramp up pressure on McConnell by urging him to immediately schedule a vote on the House-passed legislation to provide $2,000 stimulus checks.

“As we all know, the majority leader controls the schedule on the floor, so McConnell holds the key to unlocking this dilemma,” he said.

The House passed the measure by a vote of 275 to 134 with the support of 44 Republicans.

The GOP leader on Tuesday objected to Schumer’s request for unanimous consent to proceed immediately to the House bill to increase stimulus checks to $2,000 per individual.

Instead, McConnell said the Senate “will begin a process” to increase direct financial support for American households as well as review the liability protection that “Big Tech” social media platforms enjoy under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and explore additional safeguards against election fraud — three of President Trump’s top priorities.

McConnell later on Tuesday circulated a proposal to increase stimulus checks to $2,000, repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and set up an 18-member bipartisan advisory committee to “study the integrity and administration” of the 2020 election, which Trump has claimed without evidence was distorted by fraud.

Toomey on Tuesday raised concerns about repealing liability protections for social media platforms, which could be a boon to plaintiffs’ lawyers.

“The idea that Section 230 should be repealed … I think that’s an important, complicated issue. That legal liability protection that we granted to these internet companies years ago really enabled spectacular growth in a whole new industry that has done so much for our economy,” he told CNN.

“Is it being abused in some cases? I think it is, actually,” he said of Section 230 protection for tech companies. “But I don’t think you just decide one day to throw it all out. I think we gotta think through what are the unintended consequences of that.” 

Updated at 7:20 p.m.

Tags Charles Schumer Donald Trump Jake Tapper Mitch McConnell Pat Toomey Rand Paul Ron Johnson

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