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Senate GOP rushes to end Defense Act and avoid showdown on aid payments

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to avoid difficult political votes that GOP Senators could put against President Trump. Susan Walsh / AP Hide caption

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Susan Walsh / AP

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to avoid difficult political votes that GOP Senators could put against President Trump.

Susan Walsh / AP

Updated at 6:17 p.m. ET

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Says a measure that would increase direct payments to many Americans has “no realistic way to get through the Senate quickly”.

McConnell is pushing a plan to avoid a public divide within the GOP over the stimulus payments demanded by President Trump ahead of a critical Georgia runoff.

Rather than initiating the $ 2,000 relief for an up or down vote himself, McConnell linked the checks to Trump’s demands to investigate suspected election fraud and repeal a decade-old law that would open the door to lawsuits against social media companies for the content they want to leave or take off.

McConnell pushed back against criticism from the Democrats on Wednesday.

“The Senate will not split up the three issues President Trump has linked just because Democrats are afraid to address two of them,” he said.

“The Senate is not going to be bullied into throwing more borrowed money into the hands of the Democrats’ rich friends who don’t need the help. We only approved nearly $ 1 trillion in aid a few days ago for broad support of all kinds Households and much more targeted help for those who need it most ”.

Unclear outlook for $ 2,000 in COVID-19 bailouts if measures move to Senate

House supports Trump-backed payments of $ 2,000 amid feuds within the GOP

Chuck Schumer, Chairman of the Senate Minority, DN.Y., told reporters at the Capitol earlier that the move was an attempt to “kill the checks – the $ 2,000 checks so many American families desperately need – by.” they are fully bound by partisan regulations. ” it has absolutely nothing to do with helping families in trouble across the country. “

The chaos comes as McConnell tries to protect GOP members from difficult voting in the days leading up to the decision to take control of the Georgia Senate. McConnell tried Tuesday to explain his plan by saying Trump had linked the issues, including the Senate.

To make matters worse, the controls are also politically linked to a veto that a massive defense law must override. Trump vetoed the bipartisan law because he had called for the liability protection to be lifted in favor of social media companies.

Trump Vetoes Defense Bill, preparing for congressional vote to potentially overwrite it

Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Had proposed filibusting this move until the Senate votes on the $ 2,000 payments when it would be barely able to stop the eventual vote on the veto suspension.

“Two-thirds of the House voted to have these $ 2,000 checks available,” Sanders told reporters at the Capitol. “The vast majority of Americans want this, Trump wants it, Biden wants it, Pelosi wants it, Schumer wants it. Let’s vote and get this damn thing off.”

But on Wednesday night, McConnell appealed to Cloture, narrowed the debate, and ended Sanders’ option for a filibuster. The move prepares the Senate for a final vote, which may take place on Friday.

House rejects Trump's defense law veto in a highly unusual vote

The complicated process is due to the fact that more Republicans have voted in favor of the controls, including Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both of whom face the January 5th runoff. The outcome of the Georgia races will determine control of the Senate.

Perdue and Loeffler both accepted the $ 2,000 payments after Trump threatened to block a massive government spending and coronavirus bailout bill that contained smaller $ 600 checks for eligible Americans.

The two fought as Trump allies and benefited from the president’s support. But advanced stimulus checks aren’t very popular with Republicans, partly because the payments could cost around $ 464 billion, according to an impartial Congress budget estimate.

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