WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a new bill to give Americans a boost in COVID-19 relief checks. This came after McConnell earlier in the day put off a vote on President Donald Trump’s request to increase the checks to $2,000 and urged the Senate to override his veto of a defense bill.
As part of McConnell’s bill, Section 230 — the social media immunity law — would be repealed and a commission on election fraud would be created. The stimulus checks would be increased to $2,000 from the current $600.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer who opposes repealing Section 230 said in a statement, “It will not pass the House and cannot become law,” referring to the Democratic-majority House of Representatives.
McConnell’s office was not immediately available for comment to Reuters.
The Senate convened Tuesday for a rare year-end session after Democrats pushed for a vote to back Trump’s call for an increase in direct payments for Americans struggling during the pandemic.
McConnell Tuesday blocked Democrats’ push to immediately bring Trump’s demand for bigger $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks up for a vote, saying the chamber would “begin a process” to address the issue.
“This week the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus,” he said. At the time, McConnell did not elaborate on what action, if any, the Senate would take on stimulus checks.
The Senate adjourned until 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives already approved a measure increasing direct payments to $2,000 in a 275-134 vote on Monday.
Senate Democrats plan to push McConnell to allow a floor vote on the legislation. They have threatened to tie up Senate floor procedures until he does.
The Senate is already expected to take up a measure to override Trump’s veto of a $740 billion defense policy bill. The House voted to override the veto on Monday by 322-87 with most Republicans voting with a large majority of Democrats.
If the Senate seconds the House action, the bill becomes law. It would be the first veto override of Trump’s presidency, which ends on Jan. 20 when Democratic President-elect Joe Biden will take office.
McConnell said senators will vote on the defense bill Wednesday.
Schumer addressed the chamber Tuesday, saying the Senate should not adjourn until it addresses both the defense policy bill and the stimulus checks.
The $900 billion in COVID-19 aid and $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies that Trump signed into law on Sunday contains $600 checks for individuals hit hard by a pandemic that has infected more than 19 million Americans and killed over 334,000.
Trump’s signing of the package staved off a U.S. government shutdown but he also pushed for the stimulus checks to be raised to $2,000, and he reasserted that demand on Tuesday, tweeting: “Give the people $2000, not $600. They have suffered enough!”
President-elect Joe Biden also told reporters at an event in Wilmington, Delaware, that he supported the $2,000 checks. He’s also expected to deliver a speech on the pandemic Tuesday.
After passing in the House, the stimulus check proposal faces a much tougher path in the Republican-led Senate, where many conservatives oppose higher payments that they say could add hundreds of billions of dollars to the cost of COVID-19 relief.
“The House just took a strong, bipartisan vote to pass $2,000 checks,” Schumer said on Twitter after the House vote on Monday evening.
“I’ll move to pass the bill in the Senate. Workers, families and people are crying out for help. Every Senate Democrat is for this relief. Senate Republicans should not stand in the way.”
Two GOP senators from Georgia have voiced support for Trump’s plan for bigger checks. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler backed the president’s stance Tuesday, just one week before they face Democrats Jon Ossof and Raphael Warnock in the Jan. 5 runoff elections that will determine which party controls the Senate.
And, with the New Year’s Day holiday on Friday and a new Congress due to be sworn in on Sunday, lawmakers have only a short time to act if McConnell chooses to take up the measure.
Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, who has championed higher direct payments to Americans, threatened late on Monday to block the Senate from moving quickly to override Trump’s veto of defense bill until McConnell agrees to allow a vote on the $2,000 checks.
“This week on the Senate floor Mitch McConnell wants to vote to override Trump’s veto of the $740 billion defense funding bill and then head home for the New Year,” Sanders said on Twitter.
“I’m going to object until we get a vote on legislation to provide a $2,000 direct payment to the working class.”
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.