Schumer says $2K checks will be top priority of Democratic-controlled Senate
Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Wednesday that passing legislation to provide $2,000 stimulus checks will be one of the first orders of business once Democrats take control of the chamber on Jan. 20.
“One of the first things I want to do … is deliver the $2,000 checks to the American families,” Schumer told reporters during his first press conference after Tuesday’s runoffs elections in Georgia that put Democrats on track to regain control of the Senate for the first time since 2014.
The Senate appears headed to a 50-50 split, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris poised to cast any tie-breaking votes.
Schumer declined to provide any details on how he would try to pass legislation for the $2,000 checks, such as whether it would be a stand-alone bill, part of a broader coronavirus relief package or the first measure called up for a vote.
Spokespeople for Schumer didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether the leader wants to increase the stimulus checks under the latest stimulus deal from $600 to $2,000, or if the legislation he will offer would be for new checks in the amount of $2,000.
Unless Democrats are going to try to pass the checks through reconciliation — a budget maneuver that allows them to avoid a 60-vote procedural hurdle — they will need support from at least 10 Republicans in order to pass a bill providing additional direct payments.
The pledge by Schumer comes after Senate Republicans blocked multiple attempts to boost the amount of the stimulus payments included in the $2.3 trillion deal that funded the government and provided a new round of coronavirus relief.
The idea of increasing the checks has support from several GOP senators but it has also drawn fierce backlash from much of the caucus over concerns about spending or that the money does not go to those most directly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier this month addressed the issue by referencing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
“While this huge new aid package takes effect, a bipartisan caucus in both chambers is not keen to let Speaker Pelosi and Senator Sanders to have universal cash giveaways regardless of needs,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.