With Democrats Poised To Take Senate, Schumer Aims To Pass $2,000 Stimulus Checks First

Topline

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said during a press briefing Wednesday that passing legislation to increase the amount of direct payments in the most recent stimulus bill from $600 to $2,000 is “one of the first things I want to do” when the two new Democratic senators from Georgia have been seated and Democrats take control of the chamber. 

Key Facts

Raphael Warnock defeated Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in their runoff Tuesday, and Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff has declared victory against incumbent Sen. David Perdue, though that race is still too close to call. 

The $900 billion stimulus bill signed by President Trump allocates $600 for single adults earning $75,000 per year or less (and $1,200 for couples filing jointly making $150,000 per year or less), as well as $600 per child under the age of 17. 

President Trump and Democrats in Congress want to increase the size of those payments to $2,000, but Republicans have balked because of the cost—an estimated $463.8 billion. 

Speaking at a rally in Atlanta earlier this week, President-elect Joe Biden said a Democratic sweep in Georgia would “put an end to the block in Washington on the $2,000 in stimulus checks, and that money will be going out the door.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last week refused to let the Senate vote on a bill passed by the House of Representatives to increase the size of the payments.

Schumer declined to say if he plans to pass legislation that would include only the $2,000 checks, or whether those checks would be bundled with other Democratic priorities like state and local aid and expanded unemployment benefits.

Crucial Quote 

“Senate Democrats know America is hurting,” Schumer said at the press briefing. “Help is on the way.”

Big Number

$112 billion. That’s how much money the IRS has already sent out electronically in the second round of individual direct payments in a little more than a week, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. If Senate Democrats are able to pass legislation for $2,000 checks, the IRS has said that those who have already received their $600 check will receive another payment to bridge the gap to $2,000.

Key Background

$2,000 stimulus checks were a key issue in the final days of the two Georgia Senate campaigns. Democratic leader Stacey Abrams said over the weekend that McConnell’s refusal to allow a vote on the measure in the Senate had a hand in galvanizing new Democratic voters in the state. Both incumbent Republicans endorsed the larger checks along with their Democratic challengers, falling in line with President Trump, despite the opposition of many of their colleagues in the GOP.

Further Reading

Two-Thirds Of Stimulus Checks Worth $112 Billion Have Already Reached Bank Accounts (Forbes)

Extra $300 Unemployment Payments To Begin This Week In Some States (Forbes)

Here’s What The Georgia Runoff Elections Will Mean For Economic Recovery (Forbes)

The U.S. Government Has Authorized More Than $10,000 Per Person In Stimulus Spending This Year (Forbes)

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