One Illinois Senator is going after Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky for not bringing a vote to the floor yesterday on $2,000 direct payments. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin says that the time for direct aid for American households making less than $75,000 is now.
Durbin says that Congress’ failure to act may result in a massive recession if direct COVID-19 relief doesn’t come immediately: “For the past several months, we have heard from economists that we run the risk of doing too little which far outweighs the risk of doing too much when it comes to this economic recovery. The head of the Federal Reserve, Chairman Powell, has really instructed us to keep the foot on the accelerator so that our economy doesn’t slump into a recession. At a time when so many American families are laid off, unemployed, and simply struggling to get by, there is nothing more invigorating to the economy than to have a cash infusion.”
Durbin commended President Donald Trump for the rollout of Operation Warp Speed with the vaccine, but said that he’s become frustrated by the back-and-forth from the administration on other COVID-19 relief, especially when it comes to state and local governments. Durbin says he was also frustrated by President Trump’s delay in signing the relief package, causing a disruption in unemployment benefits for many around the country.
Durbin says that the Senate can restore the American people’s faith in Congress by getting the enhanced payments to the finish line: “By passing this enhanced measure, we could restore the American public’s confidence in Washington, and the fact that we are listening and working together on a bipartisan basis to respond. This measure that passed the House of Representatives has the support of the President, Speaker Pelosi, House Democrats, as well as many House Republicans. Leader Schumer and my Senate Democratic colleagues support it. So I hope Senator McConnell, the Republican Leader, and his colleagues in the Republican caucus will join us to pass this bill quickly this week. Let’s step up to the plate and get this done. The American people have waited too long for this relief. I, for one, am proud of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for coming together and passing a meaningful relief bill, but the time for patting one another on the back is over. Let’s finish the job.”
With the Senate in emergency session this week, any one senator can grind activity to a halt if they choose due to the need for unanimous support on any one measure. If the full Senate considers stand-alone stimulus check legislation, all 48 Democrats and independents who caucus with them would likely vote for it. It would then need support from 12 of the chamber’s 52 Republicans.
McConnell blocked the stimulus check measure yesterday and introduced a separate bill that would boost the payments to $2,000, repeal a section of the National Defense Authorization Act that would protect social media, and create a commission to study election issues – all measures supported by President Trump. McConnell’s separate bill has no support from Senate Democrats, which means a further stalemate on upping direct payments at this time.
The current package of COVID-19 relief as it stands includes $600 direct payments, half of what Congress passed in March as part of the CARES Act. It also adds a $300 federal unemployment insurance supplement, half of the enhanced payment Congress approved in March. The new package includes $284 billion in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans. It also extends a federal eviction moratorium through the end of January and creates a $25 billion rental assistance fund. The bill puts more than $8 billion into COVID-19 vaccine distribution and more than $20 billion into providing it to Americans for free. The new package left out any aid to state and local governments who have massive budget shortfalls due to revenue losses brought on by the pandemic.