Larger Stimulus Payments Snagged in the Senate
Should the Senate vote to increase the size of stimulus payments?
by Causes | 12.30.20
What’s the story?
- An effort to increase the size of economic impact payments to Americans from $600 to $2,000 is snagged in the Senate, as senators face a time crunch caused by the conclusion of the 116th Congress on Saturday night.
What’s happening in the Senate?
- After the House voted on Monday to override President Donald Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2021, the Senate began considering the measure on Tuesday and if the effort succeeds, it would be the first successful override of a Trump veto. The NDAA is a measure that’s been enacted annually for 59 consecutive years to authorize defense policy and spending levels.
- The Senate can only consider one piece of legislation at a time, and without unanimous consent from all senators in attendance, it appears increasingly unlikely that it will be able to consider other matters before the current Congress gavels out for the final time.
- Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) attempted to schedule the Senate’s override vote for Wednesday, but Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) objected and denied unanimous consent, which put the override vote on a track that will require the chamber to overcome a series of time-consuming procedural hurdles before it can occur.
- The Senate voted 80-12 on Wednesday in favor of a motion to proceed to the veto override vote, and McConnell filed cloture on the vote. That sets up a procedural vote on Friday to limit further debate to 30 hours, which if successful would pave the way for the veto override vote on Saturday, the final day of the 116th Congress.
- Sanders and other Democrats have made unanimous consent requests to take up a standalone bill to increase the size of the stimulus payments to $2,000, but those were blocked by Republicans. That bill, known as the CASH Act, passed the House 275-134 on Monday, with 44 Republicans voting in favor and 130 opposed, while two Democrats among the “nays” cited similar objections to Republicans that the larger payments aren’t sufficiently targeted toward low- and middle-income households.
- President Donald Trump has called for Congress to increase the size of economic impact payments and urged lawmakers to not only approve larger stimulus checks but also reform liability protections for social media platforms under Section 230 and investigate voter fraud.
- In his signing statement for a $900 billion coronavirus relief package that was attached to a $1.4 trillion spending bill for FY2021, Trump insisted, “The Senate will start the process for a vote that increases checks to $2,000, repeals Section 230 and starts an investigation into voter fraud.”
- McConnell introduced a bill that would increase the size of stimulus payments to $2,000; reform social media liability protections under Section 230; and establish a bipartisan commission to investigate election irregularities. McConnell said Wednesday that the Senate “is not going to split apart the three issues that President Trump linked together just because Democrats are afraid to address two of them.”
- Barring a unanimous consent agreement to speed up the consideration of the NDAA veto override or to immediately consider McConnell’s legislation after the override vote, the Senate will be unable to take up either the CASH Act or McConnell’s bill, and the issue will have to be considered anew in the 117th Congress.
- The Treasury Dept. is in the process of distributing the $600 payments, known as “recovery rebates”, so if Congress eventually enacts larger payments those would likely be distributed as a separate payment at a later date for most recipients.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / BackyardProduction)
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