Senate Democrats plan to make another coronavirus relief package — including sending an additional stimulus payment to many Americans — one of their top priorities for the year once they assume control of the chamber.
"The job of COVID emergency relief is far from complete," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote in a letter to colleagues on Tuesday. "Democrats wanted to do much more in the last bill and promised to do more, if given the opportunity, to increase direct payments to a total of $2,000 -- we will get that done."
Democrats will control the Senate by the thinnest of margins after twin victories by Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in the Georgia run-off elections last week clinched the party a 50-50 split in the upper chamber, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris able to cast a tie-breaking vote.
Their closing arguments in Georgia centered on sending $2,000 stimulus checks to Americans still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, a popular issue championed by both Democrats and President Trump.
"If you send Jon and the Reverend to Washington, those $2,000 checks will go out the door," Biden said on the eve of the special elections. "And if you send Sens. Perdue and Loeffler back to Washington, those checks will never get there. It's just that simple. The power is literally in your hands."
The federal government has already sent a majority of American households two direct cash payments: The first, worth up to $1,200 for individuals, went out in April, and the second, worth up to $600 for individuals, will be delivered by Jan. 15.
In addition to increasing the $600 payments by $1,400 to make good on the promise of $2,000 checks for voters, the stimulus bill will include money for vaccine distribution, small businesses, schools, and state and local governments, Schumer said.
"We will immediately set to work to deliver on that goal," Schumer said. "As our first order of legislative business, please prepare to address additional COVID emergency relief legislation."
Still, it's unclear whether Democrats can secure enough votes to pass another massive relief bill: On Friday, Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, said that he would "absolutely not" support sending Americans a $2,000 stimulus check, potentially dealing a fatal blow to the relief plan.
“Absolutely not. No,” Manchin told The Washington Post on Friday, when asked whether he supports a fresh round of stimulus checks. “Getting people vaccinated, that’s job No. 1.”
“How is the money that we invest now going to help us best to get jobs back and get people employed?" he continued. "And I can’t tell you that sending another check out is gonna do that to a person that’s already got a check."