December 30, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell personally blocked Sen. Chuck Schumer's request for an up or down vote on $2,000 survival checks on Tuesday. Following that, Sen. Bernie Sanders blocked McConnell's effort to get unanimous consent to have a veto override on a defense bill on Wednesday, the other must-pass bill for the week. That sets up a showdown in which McConnell appears to be trying to set up a way to have the $2,000 survival check but make sure it fails.

A growing number of Republicans, including Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue (who are desperate because of their runoff races), Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, and even Deb Fischer are supporting hiking the direct payments to $2,000. Or perhaps more pointedly, supporting the idea of having a vote on $2,000 survival checks. Because that appears to be what McConnell is working toward—allowing the Senate to vote, but poisoning the bill before it happens to make life difficult for Democrats. And millions of Americans, but they don't count to him. Because that's what he does.

On the floor Tuesday, McConnell showed his hand. He noted Trump's ridiculous statement, issued when he signed the stimulus/spending bill, that Congress was going to "start the process for a vote that increases checks to $2,000, repeals Section 230, and starts and investigation into voter fraud." "Those are the three important subjects the President has linked together,” he said. "This week the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus." So McConnell is going to try to have the $2,000 survival check vote and poison it, too. He's going to tie Section 230—the Communications Act provision that Trump insists is allowing Twitter to censor him (it's not)—and "voter fraud" to critical assistance to Americans.

Because that's what he does. There's a rarely used floor procedure Democrats could try to stop him nicknamed the "clay pigeon" maneuver. A single senator can call for an amendment that has multiple proposals to be broken into individual components, requiring separate debate and separate votes. The last time it was used was in 2010, when then-Sen. Tom Coburn hijacked a debt limit increase bill, bringing an amendment with 17 spending cuts that had to be considered separately. Prior to that, in 2007, then-Senate Majority Harry Reid used it on a comprehensive immigration bill in an effort to ward off poison pills from Republicans. Democrats could try it with McConnell's surely poisoned survival check bill.

Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

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