“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,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said from the Senate floor on Wednesday. “We just approved almost $1 trillion in aid a few days ago.”
President Trump demanded the amount of the stimulus checks to be increased from $600 to $2,000 last week while holding up the $900 billion stimulus deal for three days before signing it into law. The president’s request was welcomed by Democrats, who put for a vote Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help Act (CASH) Act on the House floor on Monday.
“We have a very unlikely ally in President Trump,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said from the Senate floor on Wednesday. “On this issue. Amazingly, the President of the United States is right.”
The legislation would increase the amount of the direct payments included in the $900 billion stimulus deal from $600 to $2,000 and expand the additional bonus for dependents from each dependent under 17 to each dependent of any age. Nearly 8 in 10 voters support $2,000 stimulus checks, according to a December survey of 1,115 likely U.S. voters by Data for Progress.
Replacing the $600 stimulus checks with $2,000 ones would add around $300 billion to the $900 billion stimulus package signed by the president on Sunday. A $2,000 stimulus check provision would cost around $464 billion, according to The Joint Committee on Taxation compared with the $600 stimulus checks which have a $166 billion price tag, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Republicans: ‘This is about helping millionaires and billionaires’
On Tuesday, McConnell introduced a bill that combines both the $2,000 stimulus checks and the repeal of Section 230, a 1996 internet law that protects platform from legal liability arising for user-generated content. That would not likely be supported by Democrats, who largely oppose the repeal of Section 230.
Sanders and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) requested a standalone Senate vote on the stimulus checks legislation on Tuesday and again on Wednesday, emphasizing they have the support of the president who tweeted “$2000 ASAP!” earlier on Wednesday.
Both McConnell and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) argued that the direct payments increase would unnecessarily increase the U.S. government deficit at a time when the economy was in better shape than the darkest depths of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our economy is in nothing like the situation we faced during a moment in March,” Toomey said from the Senate floor on Wednesday. “Our economy is not in a freefall. Our economy is in a recovery mode.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) argued against providing stimulus to families who didn’t need it — even though married couples who make over $150,000 would receive no stimulus checks (unless they had dependents) based on the legislation passed in the House.
“This isn't about helping the people that need it the most,” Cornyn said from the Senate floor on Wednesday. “This is about helping millionaires and billionaires and people who frankly have not suffered the hardships economically that others have suffered.”
According to former Treasury economist and current Evercore ISI economist Ernie Tedeschi, a married couple who jointly made $1 million based on their 2019 tax filing would have to have 20 dependents to qualify for any amount of the CASH Act stimulus checks.