Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, attempted to pass the change to the omnibus spending bill through a unanimous consent request on the Senate floor, but any senator can halt passage of legislation that way. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, objected to the request.
McConnell’s remark about bringing Trump’s priorities “into focus” was not a commitment to bringing votes on the issues. The standoff leaves action on the Senate NDAA override vote in question, and the majority leader might have to file cloture to overcome objections and set up the vote for later this week.
Schumer urged the Senate to join Trump and the House to increase the size of the checks, arguing that “working Americans have taken it on the chin” during the pandemic.
“The fastest way to get money into Americans pockets, is to send some of their tax dollars right back from where they came,” he said.
Schumer said $600 is “not enough” for Americans who need the extra money to pay for groceries and rent, and dismissed concerns that the proposal would add too much money to the deficit. He said that Republicans had previously passed nearly $2 trillion in tax cuts and recently fought to include a tax break for corporate meal expenses.
“I don’t want to hear that we can’t afford it,” Schumer said.
If the bill does get a full vote in the Senate, it would need at least 12 Republican senators to join all members of the Democratic caucus in order to cross the 60-vote threshold to advance.
“Those are the three important subjects the President has linked together,” said McConnell. “This week, the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus.”
Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders who said he would move to delay a vote unless McConnell brings $2,000 stimulus checks to a vote on the floor, continues to push for larger checks.
“The leaders of our country, President Trump, President-elect Biden, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are all in agreement,” Sanders said in floor remarks. “We have got to raise the direct payment to $2,000. So, that is where we are right now in this historic moment. Do we turn our backs on struggling working families or do we respond to their pain?”
CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.