Massachusetts senator Ed Markey and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders will try to force a vote on raising coronavirus relief checks to $2,000 by stalling the Senate’s veto override on a massive defense bill this week.
I will be joining @BernieSanders in blocking the defense bill until we get a vote on $2000 in direct cash relief. That relief passed in the House today with 44 Republicans voting for it. Senate Republicans must do the same and get the American people the help they need. https://t.co/gPbdiUZ4cf
— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) December 29, 2020
Sanders announced on Twitter Monday evening that he plans to delay the vote to override President Donald Trump’s veto on the annual defense policy bill. The president opposed the bill because it failed to punish social media companies he claims are biased against him, but the House overrode his veto Monday.
Soon after Sanders’ announcement, Markey said he would join in on the filibuster.
“That relief passed in the House today with 44 Republicans voting for it,” Markey wrote on Twitter. “Senate Republicans must do the same and get the American people the help they need.”
Like the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the coronavirus stimulus has ping-ponged between Congress and Trump in recent days. After the legislative branch passed a $900 billion pandemic relief package last week, Trump threatened to knock it down in an unexpected logjam after months of compromises and negotiations. Among other complaints, he asked for an amendment to boost cash payments to Americans from $600 to $2,000.
The president eventually signed off on the full $2.3 trillion package Sunday, which also includes funds to help businesses and avoid a government shutdown. With the support of many Republicans, the Democrat-led House quickly and overwhelmingly voted to increase checks to $2,000 Monday, and the potential raise now goes to the GOP-controlled Senate where its future is uncertain.
“The American people are desperate, and the Senate has got to do its job before leaving town,” Sanders told Politico. “It would be unconscionable, especially after the House did the right thing, for the Senate to simply leave Washington without voting on this.”
At a time when so many people are facing economic desperation, the $600 direct payment is a step forward – but it’s not enough. We need to increase that direct payment to $2000. Biden wants it, Trump wants it, Pelosi wants it, Schumer wants it. Now, Congress must vote to do it.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) December 28, 2020
In a rare twofold rebuke of the president during his final month in office, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and many other Senate Republicans oppose both Trump’s demands for $2,000 checks and his veto of the defense bill. Looming over all this are the Georgia run-off races early next month that will determine the balance of the Senate at the start of President-elect Joe Biden’s term.