State Watch

Kentucky governor comes out in support of $2,000 stimulus checks

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) came out Wednesday in support of increasing to $2,000 the direct payments in the federal COVID-19 relief package as pressure mounts on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to put the measure up for a vote. 

The Kentucky governor said during a Tuesday press briefing that increasing the current $600 in direct payments to $2,000 would inject $5 billion into the state economy, a stimulus that he said is needed to assist retailers, restaurants and small businesses. 

Under the COVID-19 relief package signed by President Trump on Sunday, Beshear said less than half that amount — almost $2.3 billion — would be funneled into the Kentucky economy. 

“If that effort is blocked, it’s going to deprive our Kentucky families of $5 billion that could help them through this pandemic and could certainly help our economy, could help every small business in every location across Kentucky,” Beshear said.

“The difference between Leader McConnell bringing this to a vote and passing it or him blocking it is our Kentucky families receiving an extra $5 billion,” he added.

Beshear also slammed McConnell’s move to link legislation for the relief to measures regarding election investigations and liability for technology companies, saying that “to tie them together at best is some strategic political move.”

The relief package that Congress passed last week designated almost $490 million in total for jobless benefits and more than $297 million for renters in Kentucky. The state’s vaccination distribution push will be given nearly $57 million, and its testing, tracing and mitigation efforts will receive nearly $290 million in funding, he said. 

“This act didn’t do everything that I hoped that it would, but it is of significant help to fighting this virus, to getting back on our feet and helping our families that are struggling,” the governor said. “They’re going to need more help, more relief.”

Beshear joined many other Democrats and some Republicans this week in pushing for larger direct payments as part of the federal government’s COVID-19 relief.

Last week, after Congress approved the current relief package, Trump criticized it for its $600 direct payments, calling the bill a “disgrace.” But the president signed the legislation on Sunday, noting he hoped to move forward with discussions for larger checks. 

McConnell is facing a divide among Republican senators on whether to back Trump’s push, with several saying the price tag would be too high and others, including the Georgia senators seeking reelection, supporting the increase for the checks.

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus relief Coronavirus relief package COVID-19 COVID-19 relief COVID-19 relief package direct payments Donald Trump Kentucky Mitch McConnell stimulus checks
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