Senate adjourns without passing $2,000 stimulus check legislation

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The U.S. Senate adjourned on Friday without passing legislation to provide millions of Americans with $2,000 stimulus checks, kicking the issue to the new Congress.

President Trump had called on the Republican-led Senate to approve the bigger checks, saying the $600 payments in a $900 billion coronavirus relief package he signed last month were too small.

“They want to give people ravaged by the China Virus $600, rather than the $2000 which they so desperately need. Not fair, or smart!” the president said Friday on Twitter shortly before the chamber adjourned.

Senate Republicans again blocked Democratic attempts to take up a House-passed bill that would boost the $600 checks to $2,000.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said many upper-income households are still eligible to receive at least some money under the House bill.

“While this huge new aid package takes effect, a bipartisan commonsense caucus in both chambers is not keen to let Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and Senator [Bernard] Sanders rush to borrow another half-a-trillion dollars for universal cash giveaways, regardless of need,” said Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

Mr. McConnell introduced his own bill this week that combines the increased checks with language to repeal certain protections for social media companies and set up an election integrity commission – two other priorities of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Sanders, the democratic socialist from Vermont, also moved to take up Mr. McConnell’s bill on Friday but Senate Republicans objected.

Mr. Sanders led Senate Democrats’ push to delay a quick vote to override Mr. Trump’s veto of the annual defense authorization bill to win an up-or-down vote on the House-passed $2,000 checks bill.

“Socialism for the rich is not, in the midst of this terrible pandemic, putting a $2,000 check into the hands of working families,” Mr. Sanders said, responding to Mr. McConnell’s criticism of the House proposal.

The Senate on Friday voted 81-13 to override the president’s veto but adjourned without ever taking a roll call vote on boosting the checks.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham threw in with Mr. Sanders on Friday.

“Going from $600 to $2,000 doesn’t make you a socialist,” the South Carolina Republican said on Twitter.

Mr. Graham said the president should insist on a standalone vote.

The Senate is coming back into session Sunday, when the new Congress convenes.

The $600 checks in the $900 billion relief package start phasing out for individuals who earn more than $75,000 per year and couples earning more than $150,000 per year. Households are also eligible for $600 payments per dependent child.

The Democrats’ bill includes similar phaseouts, though individuals earning less than $115,000 per year and childless couples earning less than $230,000 per year are still eligible to receive some money.

Mr. McConnell pointed out that a married couple with three children earning $250,000 per year would get a $5,000 payout under the House plan.

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