Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) asked for unanimous consent to approve the CASH Act, which would boost the checks by $1,400 by amending the COVID-19 relief package that recently passed. Cornyn objected.
“This is not about helping the people that need it the most. This is about helping millionaires and billionaires and people who, frankly, have not suffered the hardship economically that others have during this pandemic,” Cornyn said.
The CASH Act has caps. For instance, checks would not go to any families of five making $350,000 or more, which the Texan noted before saying the legislation also doesn’t differentiate between people who have been receiving a paycheck during the pandemic and people who lost their jobs.
Markey had said the $2,000 checks would help struggling American families.
“Americans need support. They need to be able to trust their government and they need $2,000 now,” he said.
At least six Republican senators say they will vote for $2,000 checks if a vote is held. None are part of Republican Senate leadership. All Senate Democrats support the higher check amount.
While Cornyn painted the $2,000 checks as coming from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) pointed out that President Donald Trump first floated the higher amount after Congress recently passed a fresh COVID-19 relief package.
“And the president has told us this morning that we should move on this as quickly as possible, and though I don’t often come to the floor to agree with the president, he’s right. In this instance, he’s clearly right. And what will we do now?” Durbin said.
Cornyn responded by proposing pairing the $2,000 checks with a provision that would protect companies against COVID-19-related liability lawsuits. Durbin said a bill Cornyn proposed including such provisions “goes way too far,” and beyond “reasonable measures” to protect businesses.
Markey later asked for unanimous consent for the Senate to on Thursday take up the CASH Act for a vote. Cornyn blocked that request.
Unanimous consent means a recorded vote isn’t conducted, but it allows a single senator to block a bill.
The situation was similar to Tuesday, when McConnell first blocked a unanimous consent request to pass the CASH Act before blocking a separate request to hold a vote on the bill.
Hours later, McConnell introduced his own bill, which includes the $2,000 checks but other provisions that Democrats oppose, such as a repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That section shields some technology companies from most liability lawsuits.
Speaking on the Senate floor on Wednesday, the top Republican in Congress said the Senate will not hold a vote on the CASH Act.
“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. The Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democrats rich friends who don’t need the help,” McConnell said, adding that the CASH Act “does not align with what President Trump has suggested” and “has no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate.”