Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks to open up the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 16, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/TNS)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks to open up the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 16, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/TNS)

McConnell rules out passing House bill on $2,000 relief payments

Erik Wasson

Bloomberg News

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday closed off chances that the Senate would pass anytime soon a House bill that would give most Americans $2,000 stimulus payments.

The Kentucky Republican said the House legislation, approved in a bipartisan vote Monday, “has no realistic path” to quick passage in the Senate and that it falls short of the demands of President Donald Trump. He again blocked an attempt by Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to adopt the House bill to increase the payments to $2,000 from the $600 by unanimous consent.

The Senate instead will work on combining the stimulus payments with measures on election integrity and rolling back social media liability protections, he said. That responds to all three issues Trump has said he wants, but a bill combining them likely will alienate enough senators in both parties to leave prospects for bigger stimulus payments dead in the Senate.

“The Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of the Democrats’ rich friends who don’t need the help,” McConnell said. The House bill would raise the income cutoff to receive a payment.

The clash over the payments also is entangling another piece of year-end business in the Senate — a vote to override Trump’s veto of a crucial $740.5 billion defense policy bill. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey said they will continue to delay the defense legislation vote unless McConnell relents and allows a vote on a standalone bill on the bigger stimulus checks.

“We are saying to Mitch McConnell, to allow the United States Senate to do what it’s supposed to do, and that is the vote,” Sanders told reporters. “The House passed the bill, it’s over here right now. Do you want to vote against it? Then vote against it.”

Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey later blocked an attempt by Sanders to call up the House bill for a roll call vote.

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