Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday blocked the bill that would increase stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000.
"I object," McConnell said on the Senate floor in Washington.
He blocked a request for unanimous consent for the CASH Act from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Unanimous consent enables a bill to pass without a recorded vote. But the procedure opens legislation up for an objection by a single senator.
Schumer had called on Republicans to support the act, saying, "$600 is not enough."
"The fastest way to get money into Americans' pockets is to send some of their tax dollars right back from where they came," Schumer added. "$2,000 stimulus checks could mean the difference between American families having groceries for a few extra weeks or going hungry; the difference between paying the rent or being kicked out of your home that you have lived in for years. It could buy precious time for tens of millions of people as the vaccine thankfully makes its way across the country."
Before objecting, McConnell had briefly touched on the push to increase stimulus checks, noting that President Donald Trump, when signing the government funding package and the COVID-19 relief package on Sunday, asked Congress for "more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child."
The Senate this week will "begin a process" to bring the issue, one of three that Trump "has linked together," into focus, McConnell added.
Trump had stalled on signing the bills as a way to try to leverage Congress into approving $2,000 direct payments.
The CASH Act was introduced in the House. It would amend the relief package if it passes the Senate and is signed by Trump.
The House passed the bill on Monday with a 275–134 vote.
Schumer said all 48 Senate Democrats support the bill. That means at least 12 GOP senators would need to vote to approve, if it is brought to a vote.
McConnell controls which bills are brought to the floor for a vote, apart from those that are put forth for unanimous consent.
McConnell said he would bring the defense bill veto for a vote this week. Trump vetoed the package but was overridden by the House. The Senate appears poised to override the veto as well.
"The House did the right thing. I congratulate them. And now it is time for the Senate to step up to the plate and do what the working families of this country overwhelmingly want us to do," he said.
Sanders asked for McConnell to bring the CASH Act to a vote immediately after the veto override vote, but McConnell blocked the proposal.