House Republicans have blocked Democrats’ attempts to increase stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000, a very good idea that progressive Democrats like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders have been calling for from the start.
Trump handed Democrats some political leverage earlier this week when he threatened to veto the covid relief package both parties had agreed on, arguing that Americans deserved at least as much as they received in the first round of stimulus checks, if not $2,000. It was an obvious political stunt, but one worth capitalizing on nonetheless, which is what Democrats have done in the last 48 hours or so.
But when House Democrats attempted to pass the $2,000 payments during a Christmas Eve meeting, their Republican colleagues shut down the proposal, according to CNBC. Since the special session required unanimous consent, it only required one Republican to oppose it: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
This outcome is hardly surprising. Trump has been at odds with Republicans since some of them publicly acknowledged Joe Biden’s victory, and calling for $2,000 checks is a good way to make them look like the bad guys for blocking a proposal he himself doesn’t sincerely support. For their part, Republicans have shown little urgency when it comes to getting relief to working Americans, preferring instead to hand tax breaks and benefits to corporations and the wealthy.
Still, it’s frustrating to see a glimmer of the possibility that something actually good might happen, only to realize that it’s nothing more than an elaborate game to the people who have the power to make it so. Not to mention that the negotiations over the new proposal for $2,000 payments could delay the disbursement of the $600 payments, which is probably the amount that Americans will receive in the end.
I suppose all hope is not lost yet—but any of it that remains rests with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, so I think we can see where this is going.