Second stimulus check: news summary for Tuesday 29 December

Second stimulus check IRS updates: Congress approves bill, House passes $2,000 payment

Coronavirus relief bill: live

Second stimulus check: latest news

Headlines:

- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says $600 checks could arrive by direct deposit as early as tonight.

- Sen. McConnell is introducing a new bill with $2,000 stimulus checks but it’s tied to a repeal of the social media-related Section 230 and finance for election investigation.

- President Trump urges Replublican senators to "get tough" and approve the $2,000 stimulus checks after McConnell blocks Senate vote.

- Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell twice blocks immediate vote on $2,000 stimulus checks on Senate floor on Tuesday after House moved to pass bill on Monday.

- The bill to inrease stimulus checks from $600 to $2k could be scheduled for another vote in the Senate at a later date this week, though it is unclear at what McConnell will do next. 

US House on Monday passes bill that would increase covid stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000 by 275-134 vote, needing two-thirds majority to pass, the bill now heads to the US Senate.

- President Trump has now signed the $2.3tn coronavirus relief and federal funding bill passed by Congress a week ago. The legislation includes roughly $900bn in covid-19 aid

- Trump's delay in signing bill sees millions of Americans miss out on week of emergency benefits

Related stories: 

Schumer blasts legislation he says McConnell has introduced

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has introduced legislation linking $2,000 covid-19 relief checks to President Donald Trump's requests involving social media company legal protections and election fraud, the chamber's top Democrat said on Tuesday.

"It will not pass the House and cannot become law," Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement, referring to the Democratic-majority House of Representatives.

McConnell's office was not immediately available for comment.

Dollar takes pounding on economic aid concerns

The dollar slumped to multi-year lows against many currencies on Wednesday as currency traders looked past a new delay in US stimulus checks and maintained bets additional financial aid was still likely.

The greenback hit its weakest level in more than two years against the euro, the Australian and the New Zealand dollars. The dollar also crashed to the lowest in more than five years against the Swiss franc and fell broadly against Asian currencies.

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday blocked immediate consideration of a measure to increase covid-19 relief payments to $2,000, adding another twist to fractious negotiations over fiscal stimulus.

The dollar has fallen steadily since Donald Trump signed a coronavirus aid and spending bill on Sunday, because more stimulus for the world's largest economy reduces demand for the perceived safety of holding the greenback. While the size of relief payments is still uncertain, many analysts say the dollar is likely to resume falling next year because President-elect Joe Biden is expected to push for even more economic support measures.

Senator Ed Markey: "broken clock right twice a day" 

 

"I don't agree with Donald Trump on much, but even a broken clock has the correct time twice a day... that's Donald Trump on this issue," says Sen. Markey on Pres. Trump tweeting supporting for $2,000 relief checks.

GOP Senator says he’ll block consent for $2,000 stimulus checks

Republican senator Pat Tommey (Pa.) is one of several senators who have said they will object to a request to pass House-approved legislation to increase the stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000. The others include Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

Toomey, in an interview with Jake Tapper said the increased stimulus checks were a “very bad idea”, saying many of those who received the money would have suffered no loss of income. “How and why does that make any sense at all?” he argued. Toomey said the total cost would rise to two-thirds of $1 trillion.

According to a GOP aide, quoted by The Hill, there will not be a vote on the $2,000 stimulus check, because senators would use procedural obstacles to hold up the bill.

McConnell

Why did McConnell introduce ‘poison pill’ legislation on $2,000 stimulus checks?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has introduced a bill for the $2,000 stimulus checks, but he tied it to President Trump’s two other demands, repeal of online liability protections (known as section 230) and establishing a commission to study voter fraud.

Why did McConnell introduce the legislation? Mainly, it appears, because the two Republican senators in Georgia facing absolutely vital run-off elections on 5 January - David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler - have both said they support the $2,000 stimulus check. This bill therefore gives them the opportunity to support the $2,000 checks, but the reality is that by tying it to Trump’s other demands, which Dems will almost certainly oppose, McConnell has no real risk this could become law.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer was incensed by the move, calling it a “cynical gambit” and said it was a “blatant attempt” to ensure that that stimulus checks would not be increased from $600 to $2,000.

"If we start adding poison pills to the $2,000 payment bill, that is just another way of telling the American people that this body doesn't support $2,000 payments," was the view of Democrat Senator Chris Murphy.

What is also not clear is whether McConnell’s legislation will ever actually be voted on. The GOP leader has introduced the bill and moved to place it on the Senate calendar, but that’s no guarantee it will come up before the end of the 116th Congress on 3 January.

Republican Senator Susan Collins gave her thoughts on what was expected to happen this week: “Good question… No one knows. That was unexpected.”

AOC supports Sanders' proposed filibuster

With Bernie Sanders expected to lead a filibuster as Democrats try to slow down the Senate and strengthen public pressure on Senate Republicans for the $2,000 stimulus checks, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez is in full agreement.

Mitch McConnell, who has tied in the additional aspects to his new bill has two dates front and centre of mind. First he has to get the NDAA veto repealed before Congress finishes up, and second there are the Georgia Senate runoff elections on 5 January.

Sanders actions may not be popular with those hoping to get home for the new year celebrations, but there's little doubt that he'll stick with his convictions to do what he believes is the right thing for the American people.

"Let's hold Donald Trump to his word"

Sen. Ed Markey joins the voices to get a bill voted on so that Americans can get the much-needed financial support before the year is out.

In his statement he refers to specific examples of people in desperate need, including a mother who returned home from the hospital with her new-born baby to find an eviction notice waiting for her.

Sanders on stimulus efforts

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking on The Situation Room, explaining very clearly why there is no need for McConnell to combine the extra political points to the bill, while not ignoring them.

"Bring a clean bill to vote on," he says.

Mnuchin says $600 stimulus checks could arrive tonight

The $600 stimulus payments that were signed into law on Sunday will be arriving over the next few days, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Some may arrive as early as tonight he said in a tweet on Tuesday evening:

'The US Treasury has delivered a payment file to the Federal Reserve for Americans’ Economic Impact Payments. These payments may begin to arrive in some accounts by direct deposit as early as tonight and will continue into next week.

'Paper checks will begin to be mailed tomorrow.'

Schumer calls out McConnell's bill

With Mitch McConnell introducing legislation linking $2,000 covid-19 relief checks to President Donald Trump's requests involving social media company legal protections and election fraud, the chamber's top Democrat said on Tuesday.

'It will not pass the House and cannot become law,' Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement, adding "any move like this by Sen. McConnell would be a blatant attempt to deprive Americans of a $2,000 survival check."

This was referring to the Democratic-majority House of Representatives. McConnell's office was not immediately available for comment.

McConnell bill dissected

Mike DeBonis covers the goings-on in Congress for the Post and has pulled together a little thread of the current activity.

In it he points out that the GOP combo bill includes:

- $2K checks language is different from House bill; doesn't add in adult dependents.

- it's a flat repeal of Sect 230, which is, to put it charitably, an invitation to chaos.

- election cmte is 18 members; 9 appt'd by Pelosi, 9 by McConnell.

New coronavirus strain detected in US

After the WHO Regional Director Hans Kluge called for stringent measures to be taken, Colorado has confirmed a case of the strain that began in the UK.

Find out what he said and more about this variant.

Biden points to slow vaccine rollout

President-elect Joe Biden criticized President Donald Trump's promised swift coronavirus vaccine rollout, saying it has fallen behind expectations.

Biden, speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, said some 2 million people have been vaccinated, well short of the 20 million Trump had promised by the end of the year.

Eviction risks are very real

As this report shows, one in six renters in the US is behind on payments.

Nearly half of those, which equates to over four million people, say they are likely to be forced to move out of their homes in the next two months.

This was brought about by a global pandemic that was reacted to late and poorly. These people need Congress to help.

Covid-19 case update

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday reported 334,029 deaths from the new coronavirus, an increase of 1,783 from its previous count.

The agency said the number of cases had risen by 176,974 to 19,232,843. The CDC reported its tally of cases of the respiratory illness known as covid-19, caused by a new coronavirus, as of 4 pm ET on 28 December versus its previous report a day earlier.

The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.

Jumping aboard

Talking of playing politics, Republican Senate candidate David Purdue needs the votes in Georgia next week.

He is now supporting the $2,000 payments despite voting against increased checks previously.

Choose billionaires tax breaks over feeding the poor

This tweet represents a lot of the feeling out there today.

Yes there is, of course, plenty of politics in play, but Qasim is pointing to the millions of Americans who have been needing support for months. Priorities on a humanitarian level seem to be in the wrong place.

Overview of benefits for small business owners under $900 stimulus bill

An overvirew of what the $900 billion stimulus bill means for small business owners, via the Tory Buch Foundation...

Trump urges Republicans to approve $2k stimulus checks "ASAP" after McConnel blocks Senate vote

Donald Trump has called on Republicans to "get tough" and approve the $2,000 stimulus checks after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked an immediate vote on increasing the payments from $600 to $2,000 on Tuesday.

"Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP. $600 IS NOT ENOUGH! Also, get rid of Section 230 - Don’t let Big Tech steal our Country, and don’t let the Democrats steal the Presidential Election. Get tough!" Trump tweeted. 

McConnell's opening speech at the Senate:

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked an immediate vote on $2k stimulus checks this Tuesday, in his opening speech he acknowledged it would be one of the three Trump-pushed priorities for the Senate this week. Check out the speech below...

Senate debate on $2k stimulus check - McConnell suggests $2k stimulus checks could be among Senate priorities this week after bloking immediate vote this Tuesday

Despite blocking a vote on the $2,000 stimulus checks on two occassions during Tuesday's session, McConnell says the Senate priorities this week will be: 

1 - Increasing stimulus checks to $2k

2 - Examining repeal of Section 230

3 - Election integrity measures

Both the repeal of Section 230 (which would mean lesser liability protections for social media companies) and election integrity measures (calling for intensified election security) are two things Trump has been pushing for that Democrats are against.

There is talk that McConnell could push to have all of these things put together under one bill in a bid to "poision" the deal for Democrats.

ABC correspondent Andrew Dymburt: "McConnell did add that the Senate will "begin a process" to bring three items to the table this week that includes $2k checks...but today blockage muddies the path forward. It's unclear how exactly the Senate will proceed."

From Hugo Lowell: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggests just now that he may combine Trump demands for election fraud investigations and Section 230 review with $2,000 stimulus checks to poison the bill for Dems."

Senate debate on $2k stimulus check

Ed Markey points out that upping the stimulus payment from $600 to $1,200 would increase the overall cost of the new Stimulus Bill from $900bn to $1.3trn. 

Senate debate on $2k stimulus check - Dem. Sen Ed Markey speaks:

"We knew then 7 months ago that a single $1,200 relief check was not going to be enough to help families get by. And the $600 payment in the latest coronavirus package is crumbs to working people.. It won't even cover a month of rent, let alone heating bills, food bills"

Senate debate on $2k stimulus check

As promised, Sanders has blocked vote on defense bill after McConnell blocked vote on stimulus checks...

Senate debate on $2k stimulus check - Bernie Sanders speaks: "Working families need help now"

“We should all be very clear, the working class of this country today faces more economic desperation than any time since the Great Depression. And working families need help now, not next year, but right now.”

“Last night, the House of Representatives, by a two-thirds majority, a two-thirds bi-partisan vote, moved to increase the direct payment going to working families from $600 per adult to $2,000 per adult. The House did the right thing, I congratulate them, and now it is time for the Senate to step up to the plate.”

From Greta Wall: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocks Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's unanimous consent request to approve House-passed bill for $2,000 stimulus checks."

Senate debate on $2k stimulus check - Senate Dem leader Chuck Schumer speaks:

"The Senate is here this week for a rare holiday session to address two major issues, the president's veto of the annual defense bill and the effort to send $2,000 survival checks to millions and millions of American families -- something Senate Democrats strongly support. 

"The Senate shoule be in session to address both issues ... we should not adjourn until the Senate holds a vote on both measures."

The Senate is now in session, with Majority Leafer Mitch McConnell currently speaking...

Georgia run-off Rep. Senators support $2,000 stimulus checks

Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the two Republican senators facing tight run-off elections for a Senate seat next week, have both said they support increasing the size of stimulus checks, joining a growing number of Republican lawmakers as pressure mounts on Congress to pass the bill to increase the individual payments to $2,000. 

“I’m delighted to support the president in this $2,000,” Mr. Perdue told Fox News on Tuesday morning. “It’s the right thing to do for people in Georgia.”

Bernie Sanders vows to hold up defense bill unless Senate votes on $2,000 stimulus checks

Just hours after the House voted on Monday to boost stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000Bernie Sanders vowed to push the GOP-controlled Senate to vote on the move as well.

“Let me be clear: If Sen. McConnell doesn’t agree to an up or down vote to provide the working people of our country a $2,000 direct payment, Congress will not be going home for New Year’s Eve,” Sanders said in a statement.

What do I need to prove to be eligible for next stimulus check?

The stimulus bill situation is changing rapidly it seems as 2020 draws to a close; here's a rundown of what we know about eligibility for a second check.

Students could be included in second round of stimulus checks

Payments of up to $600 per eligible adult are expected in the new pandemic recovery bill. Depending upon whether they meet the qualification criteria, some college students could potentially be looking at up to $1,800 in relief money in 2020, when you factor in both the first stimulus check of up to $1,200 and relief payments expected for many adults from the second Covid package.

Amid stimulus check uncertainty president-elect Biden slams access to Defense dept.

Referring to roadblocks in the transition, Joe Biden said "From some agencies, our team received exemplary cooperation ... from others, most notable the Department of Defense, we encountered obstruction from the political leadership of that department." The obstructions could cause national security issues.

Using the IRS portal to apply for second stimulus check

The stimulus check situation is changing by the minute it seems as Congress hurtles towards the end of 2020. How to apply for your check when it comes.

Pressure mounts on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to vote on $2,000 stimulus

 

Bernie Sanders threatens to block Senate defence bill vote unless McConnell agrees to vote on $2,000 check

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont says it would be ‘unconscionable’ not to vote on the bill passed yesterday in the House that would increase stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000.

Sanders said Monday he plans to filibuster the Senate’s vote to overturn President Donald Trump’s veto of the defence spending bill, unless Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agrees to vote on the $2,000 stimulus check bill in the Senate.

How to track your second stimulus check with the IRS

With the stimulus check situation changing almost by the minute as Congress hurtles towards the end of 2020, here’s how to track your check when it's finally approved.

Following Congress passing a fresh $900 billion relief bill, Americans awaiting a second round of stimulus checks face a deadline from the IRS.

Judge orders two Georgia counties to halt voter purge ahead of Senate runoff

A federal judge on Monday ordered two Georgia counties to reverse a decision removing thousands of voters from the rolls ahead of the 5 January runoff elections that will determine which political party controls the US Senate.

The counties seemed to have improperly relied on unverified change-of-address data to invalidate registrations, the judge, Leslie Abrams Gardner, said in her order filed late on Monday in the US District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

"Defendants are enjoined from removing any challenged voters in Ben Hill and Muscogee Counties from the registration lists on the basis of National Change of Address data", Gardner wrote in the order. The judge is the sister of Democratic activist Stacey Abrams, who lost a race for Georgia governor in 2018.

The bulk of the registrations that the counties sought to rescind, more than 4,000 of them, were in Muscogee County, which US President-elect Joe Biden won handily in November, Politico reported.

An additional 150 were from Ben Hill County, which President Donald Trump won by a wide margin, the report added. 

Nearly 2.1 million people have cast ballots in the US Senate runoff election in Georgia that will determine whether Democrats control both chambers of Congress and the fate of Biden's agenda, according to state data published Thursday.

The runoffs pit Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff against Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, respectively.

biden

Biden lends his support to $2,000 direct payments

Speaking on Monday, President-elect Joe Biden claimed he supports $2,000 direct payments when asked by a journalist. 

Asked if he supported the larger stimulus checks, without turning around or breaking stride, Biden replied “yes,” and walked off the stage.

mcconnell

Battle over $2,000 covid-19 aid checks shifts to Senate

An unusual battle in Congress over President Donald Trump's demand for $2,000 coronavirus aid checks for Americans shifts on Tuesday to the Senate, where Republicans opposed to higher spending are under pressure to approve the additional relief.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives on Monday approved the direct payments in a 275-134 vote, and Senate Democrats plan to push Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the chamber, 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.

A combined $892 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief package and $1.4 trillion spending bill 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 333,000.

Trump's signing of the package staved off a US 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!"

Democrats have been happy to take advantage. They pushed for a quick House vote on Monday and enough Republicans backed it for it to be passed.

Photo: REUTERS/Ken Cedeno

Unemployment benefits eligibility: who will qualify for new stimulus?

After President Trump backed down and signed the bill on Sunday, the CARES Act’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) extends the program by at least 11 weeks into March 2021.

Democrats call for McConnell to allow Senate vote

The main concern for Democrats and Republican supporters of the proposed $2,000 stimulus check is Republican Senate opposition to the idea, led by Mitch McConnell. 

As Senator Tina Smith mused on social media: "Big Question: House will pass bill for $2K payments for Americans today, then it comes to the Senate, and it’s all up to Mitch McConnell. I’m for it. Democrats are for it. But McConnell is the one who decides whether we even get to vote on it. What will McConnell do?

Pelosi calls on Senate to back House stimulus boost

After the House of Representatives voted in favour of an increase to $2,000 from $600 for stimulus checks in the latest economic relief bill, in line with President Trump's call for a larger lump sum for US citizens, House speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged the Senate to do the same despite resistance from Republicans concerned about the impact on the Federal budget. 

wall st

Aid bill boosts hopes for US economic recovery

US stocks rallied on Monday, with each of Wall Street's main indexes closing at record levels as President Donald Trump's signing of a long-awaited $2.3 trillion pandemic aid bill increased optimism for an economic recovery.

In a sudden reversal late on Sunday, Trump backed down from his threat to block the hard-fought bill, restoring unemployment benefits to millions of Americans and averting a federal government shutdown.

"It's a positive tone to the US market and part of that is the signing of stimulus package by Trump, which appeared to be in doubt but is finally been accomplished," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York. "We still have a follow-on to the Christmas rally and the favorable market we've had for a while here," he added. 

Congress approves $2,000 coronavirus stimulus checks

The Democratic-led US House of Representatives voted 275-134 to meet President Trump's demand for $2,000 relief checks on Monday, sending the measure on to an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Relief bill and second stimulus check updates: welcome

Hello and welcome to our live blog bringing you the latest developments on the new, $900bn coronavirus relief bill, which President Donald Trump finally signed on Sunday.

"The President is signing this bill to restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP, return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more," a statement issued by the White House read.

However, Trump's signing of the bill did not come soon enough to prevent millions of out-of-work Americans from missing out on emergency benefits for the final week of 2020.

The House of Representatives on Monday voted in favour of raising the amount of a second round of stimulus checks included in the package to $2,000 from the $600 originally budgeted for. The proposal will now have to go to the Senate floor for a second vote with Democrats urging Republicans to push it through despite concerns over the strain on Federal coffers.

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