Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is encouraging fellow Republicans to join him in supporting the increase of the direct payments to Americans that were part of the latest coronavirus relief bill from $600 to $2,000, after President Trump called on lawmakers to make the change.
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The Democrat-led House already approved the $2,000 payments with bipartisan support, sending them to the Republican-controlled Senate.
"Working Americans have borne the brunt of this pandemic," Hawley tweeted Tuesday morning. "They’ve been hammered, through no fault of their own. They deserve $2000 in #covid relief - a fraction of what the banks & big business got. Let’s vote now."
Hawley is joined by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., David Perdue, R-Ga., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in openly supporting the additional relief. Seven more Republicans and every Democrat would be needed to pass the measure. One of them could be Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., who has told Politico's Burgess Everett that she was in favor of additional financial assistance.
"People are hurting and I think we need to give them more aid," Fischer said. "I'm upset it's not targeted, I’m upset the process is always throwing everything in together."
The Senate is now in session, engaging in debate over the issue. Senators including Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., took to the floor to argue in favor of the higher amount. Sanders had previously indicated that he would filibuster any attempt at a vote to override President Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act until the Senate voted on the $2,000 payments.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, R-Ky., meanwhile, blocked a push for a quick vote on the bigger payments Tuesday, lumped the issue with exploring election integrity and examing whether or not to strip legal protections for social media platforms under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 says that companies like Facebook and Twitter not considered the publishers of the content posted by users, and therefore cannot be held liable for any harm statements may cause.
McConnell did not seem to treat the payments as an urgent concern, only saying that the Senate would "begin a process" to focus on them, election integrity and Section 230 at some point this week.