Congressional Democrats plan to introduce a new economic relief bill after the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden that is likely to include $2,000 checks for individuals and additional aid for state and local governments.
Democrats are seeking to fulfill a promise made by Biden to voters on the eve of Tuesday’s runoff races in Georgia, which ended with Democrat Raphael Warnock beating Republican Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Jon Ossoff unseating Republican David Perdue. The two Democratic victories will effectively flip control of the now 50-50 Senate to Democrats, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote.
“One of the first things that I want to do when our new senators are seated is deliver the $2,000 checks to the American families,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who will become majority leader.
Democrats’ slim margins of control in the House and Senate could temper their legislative agenda this year, but Schumer can use special budget reconciliation rules to push through certain legislative priorities with a simple majority in the Senate instead of the 60 votes usually required.
Infrastructure, climate change legislation, student loan forgiveness and an extension of unemployment benefits are all priorities Democratic leaders have said are on the table. The $2,000 checks have been a flash point since President Trump endorsed them last month. Congress approved $600 checks for individuals in last month’s COVID-19 stimulus bill after Senate Republicans objected to the higher number. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said last month that he would not approve sending “thousands of dollars to people who don’t need the help.”
“Together, in under two weeks when we inaugurate the new Biden-Harris Administration, a unified Democratic Party will advance extraordinary progress For The People,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in a statement this week. “We will pursue a science and valued-based plan to crush the virus and deliver relief to struggling families.”