Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Tuesday that she supports $2,000 stimulus checks, joining a growing group of Republican senators who back the higher payments.
“Hospital workers, firefighters, our police officers, our truck drivers,” Collins told Maine Public Radio. “I think this would be very welcome relief and assistance to them.”
Collins, who just won reelection, said she’d vote for the $2,000 payments, but expressed concern about the bill, known as the CASH Act, giving checks to families who make up to $310,000 a year, nearly $100,000 more than the level set in the COVID-19 relief package that was enacted in March.
The new package was passed by Congress last week and signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday. It includes $600 checks. Trump said he wants $2,000 checks, and the House this week passed a bill that would increase the amount of the checks.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tried getting the bill, known as the CASH Act, passed in the upper chamber on Tuesday but was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). McConnell then introduced a bill that ties the checks to a repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and other measures Trump supports.
Earlier in the day, the top Republican in Congress had highlighted the checks, the Section 230 repeal, and an investigation into voter fraud, saying, “Those are the three important subjects the President has linked together.”
“This week, the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus,” he added.
Democrats said linking the checks to other issues was tantamount to spiking the higher payments.
“If we start adding poison pills to the $2,000 payment bill, that is just another way of telling the American people that this body doesn’t support $2,000 payments,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said on the Senate floor.
Collins is one of six Republican senators who support the increased payments. She joins Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) said she’s open to supporting the CASH Act but didn’t want the checks tied to Section 230 and the election.
“People are hurting and I think we need to give them more aid,” she told reporters in Washington.
Among the GOP senators who oppose the increased payments are Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Mitt Romney (R-Pa.), and John Cornyn (R-Texas).
All 48 Senate Democrats have signaled support for the higher payments. That means at least 12 Republicans would need to support them for the bill to pass.
Some Republicans have said they oppose sending checks to so many Americans.
“At the worst point of the COVID recession, total employment was down 25 million, but we sent relief checks to 166 million people. If we’re going to send out more checks, shouldn’t we target help to those who truly need it?” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who blocked narrow proposals to increase the checks last week, wrote in a tweet.
Trump has continued pushing for the higher payments, calling GOP leadership in the Senate “weak and tired,” and alleging they’re killing the Republican Party by not supporting the $2,000 checks.
“Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2,000 payments ASAP. $600 IS NOT ENOUGH!” he wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
“Also, get rid of Section 230—Don’t let Big Tech steal our Country, and don’t let the Democrats steal the Presidential Election. Get tough!”