mcconnell-blocks-checks Followed by a staffer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, right, leaves the Capitol for the day, Dec. 29, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

“American families are struggling to put food on the table and make their mortgage & rent payments,” Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) said.

Latino lawmakers are fuming after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) rejected the COVID relief package yesterday that would extend $2,000 to each American. Because of McConnell’s COVID relief block, Americans will now only get $600. 

“It couldn’t be more clear, [Sen. McConnell] doesn’t care about the well-being of the American people,” Rep. Sylvia García (D-Texas) tweeted. “The only thing standing between Americans and a $2,000 covid relief check right now is the Senate Republican Leader.”

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The roadblock mounted by Senate Republicans appears impossible, even as pressure builds to approve the bigger checks. President Donald Trump wants the Republican-led chamber to follow the House and increase the checks from $600 to $2000 for millions of Americans. 

A growing number of Republicans, including two senators in runoff elections on Jan. 5 in Georgia, agree. But most GOP senators oppose more spending, even if they are also wary of bucking Trump.

Senators will be back at it after McConnell blocked a vote Tuesday. Still, the new bill—which includes the formation of a commission to investigate the 2020 election and a complicated repeal of significant tech liability protections—does not have enough support to pass.

“American families are struggling to put food on the table and make their mortgage & rent payments,” Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) tweeted. “And it’s time @senatemajldr stop playing political games to deliver critically needed assistance and relief for families. #COVIDReliefNow.”

The showdown over the $2,000 checks has thrown Congress into a chaotic year-end session just days before new lawmakers are set to be sworn into office for the new year. And it’s preventing action on another priority: overturning Trump’s veto on a sweeping defense bill that has been approved every year for 60 years.

“$2,000 emergency checks were blocked by the Senate,” Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) tweeted. “House (bipartisan majority) passed it. President Trump supports it. But Mitch McConnell blocked it. Senate Republicans like @JohnCornyn and @SenTedCruz need to speak up. American families need help!”

But there’s still a way for Americans to get a much-needed $2,000 relief check. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) can delay today’s vote by blocking action on the defense bill until a vote can be taken on the demand for $2,000 for most Americans.

“The working class of this country today faces more economic desperation than at any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s,” Sanders said, according to the The Associated Press. “Working families need help now.” He also tried to force a vote on the relief checks, but McConnell objected a second time.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) also said that if Georgians vote for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5, the majority Democratic Senate would be able to approve more aid. 

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“Here’s the deal,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “The whole reason McConnell can block $2,000 checks to begin with is because he’s Senate Majority leader. He’ll block clean $2k relief as long as GOP run the Senate. GEORGIA can change that! If GA votes Warnock/Ossoff on 1/5, the doors open up for COVID relief.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.