The bill that would increase stimulus checks to $2,000 for most Americans was blocked from a vote on Friday by a top Republican senator.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) blocked a request from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to have the body vote on the CASH Act, which the House of Representatives passed last month.
The newly signed COVID-19 relief package includes $600 checks but President Donald Trump and Democrats want to up that amount to $2,000.
Republicans largely oppose the measure, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who thrice this week blocked unanimous consent requests to pass the bill.
Thune, the No. 2 GOP senator, noted that the relief package passed with overwhelming bipartisan support but said the problem with the CASH Act is “it is not targeted to help whose who are most in need.”
“As others here on the floor have noted, the bill would provide a payment to a family of five making up to $350,000. A family of five making $250,000 would receive a $5,000 benefit. Now, just to put that in perspective, Mr. President, that’s more than was paid to a middle-class family of five under the CARES Act that we passed back in March,” Thune said.
“In addition, the bill would add an additional $463 billion, nearly half a trillion dollars, to the annual debt.”
McConnell made a similar argument Thursday, deriding the proposal to increase payments as “socialism for rich people.”
Senate Minority Leader Schumer told Thune that, “given the state of the economy,” the increased payments are needed.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a self-described socialist who caucuses with Democrats, then said senators were in session on New Year’s Day “because back home in my state and all over this country, millions and millions of families are struggling to put food on the table, they are struggling to pay their rent, they are struggling to come up with the money they need to go to the doctor.”
McConnell has introduced a counterproposal that combines the $2,000 checks with other measures, but those measures don’t have support from Democrats.