McConnell blocks Democrats’ bid for quick approval of $2,000 stimulus checks

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday blocked a move by Democrats to unanimously approve a House-passed bill that would increase stimulus checks for most Americans to $2,000.

Mr. McConnell said he would link any action on raising the checks from the current $600 with two other demands from President Trump: to investigate election integrity and to remove liability protection for Big Tech companies.

“Those are the three important subjects the president has linked together,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor. “This week the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus.”

He didn’t indicate when or how that would unfold.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York had requested unsuccessfully a vote solely on increasing the stimulus checks. Separately, Mr. Schumer said, the Senate should vote this week to override the president’s veto of major defense bill.

“We should not adjourn until the Senate holds a vote on both measures,” Mr. Schumer said. “Leader McConnell holds the key to unlocking this dilemma. I believe both measures will pass, as they should.”

Mr. McConnell has scheduled a vote for Wednesday on the defense bill. But Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, said he’ll object to any action on that measure until Republicans agree to hold a vote on the stimulus checks.

Many Senate Republicans oppose increasing the direct payments, saying it will increase the debt by roughly $460 billion and that the aid isn’t targeted to the people who need it most.

But several GOP senators are voicing support for the increased aid, including Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue of Georgia, both of whom face pivotal runoff elections next week against Democratic opponents who favor the bigger payments.

On Twitter, Mr. Perdue said President Trump “is right” about increasing the payments from the current $600.

“I support this push for $2,000 in direct relief for the American people,” Mr. Perdue said.

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