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

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

Coronavirus relief bill: summary

Second stimulus check: headlines

- Mitch McConnell admits that the bill to increase stimulus checks to $2,000 has "no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate"

- The Senate has now adjourned until Thursday, with still no vote yet on the bill to increase stimulus checks to $2,000. 

- Pelosi and Gingrich press McConnell to allow vote on 'clean' bill for $2,000 stimulus checks

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

- Senate to vote on overriding Trump defense bill veto as president lashes out at "pathetic" Republican leaders.

- Georgia Senate run-off "too close to call" say pollsters, with control of upper house to be decided on 5 January.

- Dollar loses ground over economic aid bill concerns.

- 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 fraud investigation.

- President Trump urges Republican 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.

- US House on Monday passed bill that would increase covid stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000 by 275-134 vote.

Related stories: 

Good night and thank you for joining our live feed with all the latest reaction on the second stimulus check from the US on December 30. 

McConnell says quick approval of $2,000 stimulus check is unrealistic

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has admitted that the bill to increase stimulus checks to $2,000 has "no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate", dampening the hopes of millions of Americans hoping that increased payments could be approved before the New Year.

For the second day runnning, McConnell again blocked quick passage of a bill to increase coronavirus stimulus payments to $2,000, instead choosing to lump this measure together under one bill with other Trump-backed proposals that Democrat's have labelled "poison pills". 

Senate vote results on overriding President Trump defense veto

The Senate votes 80-12 in favour of beginning formal debate on overriding President Trump's veto of defense bill. The Senate has now adjourned until tomorrow, with still no vote yet on the bill to increase stimulus checks to $2,000. 

Vote in progress...but not that one!

The Senate is now voting to begin debate on the override of President Trump's veto of the 2021 NDAA.

This is the vote in which Senator Sanders has pledged to delay and filibuster until New Year's Day.

Schiff tells Mitch it's simple

"It just requires you and your fellow Senate Republicans to care enough about struggling families to give it a simple up or down vote."

Senate debate: updates

Senator Ed Markey: "People are literally starving, cold and without homes.

"Meanwhile, the Republican leadership would rather head home for the New Year and ignore the health and financial crises taking the toll on millions of Americans."

Senate debate: updates

The general flow of the debate continues back and forth as each side makes the expected type of argument.

Sanders in particular has just been asking why McConnell and others are scared to have a democratic vote on the $2,000 checks, saying that they can discuss the other elements separately.

Senate debate: updates

Sanders: "We have a very unlikely ally in President Trump. Here is what the leader of the Republican party says: '$2000 ASAP'

"On this issue amazingly enough the POTUS is RIGHT"

"Let me just make it clear for the majority leader, that 10 out of the poorest 25 counties in the United States of America are located in Kentucky. So maybe my colleague might want to get on the phone and start talking to working families in Kentucky."

Senate debate: updates

Schumer: "There is no other game in town besides the House bill.

"The only way to get to the American people the $2,000 checks they deserve and need is to pass the House bill..House has recessed.. Any modification or addition to the house bill to not become law."

Senate debate: updates

McConnell: "Senate is not going split apart the 3 issues that Pres Trump linked together just because Democrats are afraid to address 2 of them.

"Senate's not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democratic rich friends who don't need the help."

Senate watch LIVE

The Senate is expected to hold a procedural vote on Trump's veto of defense bill.

In the meantime there is plenty of opinion being put out on the stimulus checks. We'll keep you posted on the key talking points...

Scams and hoaxes

With the $600 stimulus/survival checks in the process of being issued, it is worth remembering that some people will be looking to take advantage of those in desperate need.

Here's a piece we did back in the summer following the first round of checks were sent.

$600 surprise

Web Manager at The Salt Lake Tribune, Kelly Cannon, clearly hasn't been following our live blog over the last 24 hours. We'll forgive her.

And anyway, had she been, this wouldn't have been such a lovely surprise for her.

Here's our guide to checking your payment status.

Georgia's rising early voting

A total of 2,570,593 votes have been cast in Georgia's runoff elections, the Georgia secretary of state's office told CNN Wednesday, with Georgia's two US Senate seats and control of the chamber in the balance.

Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue both face runoffs after failing to garner more than 50% of the vote in November's general election. If Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock win both seats, the Senate would be split 50-50, prompting any legislative ties to be broken by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Full report below

Self-employed and gig economy

Some useful information here for those on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

US may expand required covid-19 testing to more international passengers

The US government may expand coronavirus testing requirements for international air travelers beyond Britain as early as next week, sources briefed on the matter told Reuters Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other US agencies held a lengthy call with US airlines on Wednesday that discussed expanding covid-19 test requirements to travelers arriving from other countries, sources briefed on the call said. The US government on Monday began requiring all airline passengers arriving from Britain - including US citizens - to test negative for covid-19 within 72 hours of departure.

The CDC said in a statement on Wednesday that 'efforts are currently ongoing in the US to assess the risk reduction associated with testing and other recommended preventative measures, determine what a feasible testing regime for air travel may look like, and gain some level of agreement on standards for a harmonized approach to testing for international air travel.'

It's all alien to us

Astronomer and Director of Dunlap Institute at the University of Toronto has pointed to a rather interesting section in the bill.

Wall Street rises on hopes of vaccine-fueled recovery

US stocks rose on Wednesday, led by energy shares, as investors bet on a strong economic recovery in 2021 on the back of covid-19 vaccine rollouts and hopes of bigger fiscal support.

The last few weeks of the year have seen a shift towards undervalued stocks that are primed to benefit from an economic rebound next year, with sectors such as banking, energy and materials outpacing their peers. Heavyweight technology shares, the most sought-after this year, were sold off in the rush towards cyclicals.

Still, near-term expectations of bigger stimulus checks dimmed after Mitch McConnell's involvement, as we've been reporting.

'We're having a little bit of hangover after Monday's approval of the stimulus package,' said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh. 'It's muted somewhat because the $2,000 additional package seems to be still out there but was killed for the moment by the Senate.'

Checks and benefits

The US Congress and President Donald Trump have already approved a new $900 billion economic rescue package which, in addition to a second stimulus check, contained an extension for unemployment benefits.

But many people have been asking if they are eligible for both.

Gingrich adds to Senate vote pressure

Former Speaker, and Republican, Newt Gingrich has said that he would “beg” Mitch McConnell to have a clean vote on $2,000 stimulus checks, making a clear warning to the GOP that it could impact on the Georgia run-offs and thereafter the new-look Senate.

As well as sharing his views on Fox News today, Gingrich also took to Twitter:

'If Senate Republicans fail to bring up the $2000 payment as a clean vote they run a real risk of losing the two seats in Georgia. This is an 80% issue. People get it. Billions for the banks, billions for big companies, but we can’t find $2000 for everyday Americans.'

He later added:

'Six days before the most important run off in American history is no time to be engaged in clever parliamentary maneuvers which everyone in America will see through. A complicated bill is a maneuver to kill a $2000 payment 80% of Americans favor. And they will know it.'

Pelosi presses McConnel on vote

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the final day of Congress for 2020. Here are some of the key quotes:

"The House approved the increase in a bipartisan vote, but the Senate GOP is divided on the issue."

"It's amazing to see the patience that some people have with other people's suffering. These Republicans in the Senate seem to have an endless tolerance for other people's sadness."

“In blocking it, they are in denial of the hardship that the American people are experiencing right now, health wise, financially, in every way."

McConnell's 'unpassable' bill

As Matthem Chapman points out, there will be lots of statements - there already have been - over how Democrats have rejected Mitch McConnell's new bill.

But, there's a crucial factor to remember, he says: "McConnell quite literally set up an unpassable bill. He wants $2,000 checks dead."

"Why didn't McConnell announce the schedule for the vote on a $2,000 checks bill?"

US Senator from Connecticut Chris Murphy:

"The House passed the bill authorising the checks - it hard to get two thirds of the House to agree on when that might happen but two thirds of the House of Representatives voted for the $2,000 checks.

"President Trump supports the $2,000 checks so he will sign the bill, if the Senate sends it to him. We can vote on the House bill today! In a matter of hours if Senate Republicans agree.

"So why isn't this happening?"

Individuals with direct deposit details on file at the IRS will receive their stimulus money quicker

Citizens whose personal banking details are held on file by the IRS will logically be first in line to receive the second round of impact payments. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday that the first checks will be sent out today. "Treasury and the IRS are working with unprecedented speed to issue a second round of Economic Impact Payments to eligible Americans and their families. These payments are an integral part of our commitment to providing vital additional economic relief to the American people during this unprecedented time," Mnuchin explained.

McConnell links $2,000 stimulus with Section 230 issue

But what is Section 230 and why do lawmakers want it repealed? 

CBS News: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act helped create the modern internet. Now the regulation is at the center of a high-stakes political battle that could reshape how we use social media, mobile apps and the open web. President Donald Trump and some Republicans in Congress have pushed to repeal the law, while Big Tech CEOs have signalled support for modifying it — although no one can agree on how. 

President Trump tweets support for bigger stimulus check

As second stimulus checks of up to $600 per qualifying individual are sent directly to bank accounts across the country, outgoing president Donald Trump tweets in favour of checks worth up to $2,000 to those on the lowest income.

Mitch McConnell has said that this week the Senate will address the bill passed in the House earlier this week which would make that expansion a reality.

Roadblocks in presidential transition between Biden and Trump

As second stimulus checks begin arriving in Americans' bank accounts, Biden has hit out at Trump administration for being obstructive and irresponsible in witholding information and briefings from his transition team.

U.S. Senate to address Trump's request on stimulus checks - McConnell

McConnell: Senate to address Trump's request on stimulus checks this week

Reuters: US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said senators this week will address President Donald Trump’s request that $2,000 stimulus checks be sent to Americans struggling during the covid-19 pandemic.

McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, said senators will also address Trump’s requests regarding social media company protections and the president’s allegations of widespread election fraud, which have so far been unsubstantiated.

How to track your second stimulus check with IRS portal

How much the total stimulus could be remains a mystery as Congress hurtles towards the end of 2020, here’s how to track your check when it comes.

Twitter users report receiving second stimulus checks Tuesday night

"$600 stimulus checks are being distributed. You can check on yours with this link ..or check your bank account and see if its already been deposited. I received mine already"

House Democrats and many Republicans are still attempting to pass a bill in the Senate that would extend the amount from $600 to $2,000. But the amounts received max out at $600 as it stands.

Twitter users report receiving second stimulus checks Tuesday night

"I just received my stimulus money Thank you @realDonaldTrump @POTUS"

House Democrats and many Republicans are still attempting to pass a bill in the Senate that would extend the amount from $600 to $2,000. But the amounts received max out at $600 as it stands.

Twitter users report receiving second stimulus checks Tuesday night

"Talk about a fast rollout. Stimulus checks rolling out tonight. My family received ours tonight."

House Democrats and many Republicans are still attempting to pass a bill in the Senate that would extend the amount from $600 to $2,000. But the amounts received max out at $600 as it stands.

mac

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves the Senate floor as the US Senate faces a decision over approving 2,000 dollars stimulus checks and overriding the president's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act on Capitol Hill in Washington.

REUTERS/Leah Millis

Congress inches closer to Trump veto override

The US Senate was due on Wednesday to hold a procedural vote that could pave the way for Congress to override President Donald Trump's veto of a key defense bill, as tension between the outgoing Republican president and party leaders grows.

Trump on Tuesday ramped-up pressure on his fellow Republicans to support his decision to veto the bill because it does not repeal certain legal protections for tech giants, and to back $2,000 one-time stimulus checks for struggling Americans.

The president attacked Republican leaders on Twitter as "pathetic," and warned that the party had a "death wish" if it did not back the bigger payments. He also called again for scrapping social media company legal protections. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, blocked a quick vote on the checks, and urged lawmakers to override Trump's veto. If successful, the veto override would be the first such congressional rebuke of Trump.

The House of Representatives overturned his veto on Monday, and the Senate is expected to hold a procedural vote on Wednesday evening. Final passage of the override could come later in the week or over the weekend. 

The run-off in Georgia to decide if Republicans or Democrats will control the Senate and set the agenda for the Biden presidency is too close to call.

chuck

Schumer blasts McConnell legislation

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.

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP

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.

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.

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.”

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 signed into law last 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.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has added a list of conditions before he will allow the vote to reach the chamber floor, including the repeal of Section 230, which governs liability shielding for Big Tech firms, and the convening of a commission to investigate election fraud. 

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