Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., took to Twitter late Monday to lay out what seems to be the strategy in how Senate Democrats may approach passing legislation that would increase the direct payment amounts to many Americans from $600 to $2,000.
And his best offense seems to be a focus on defense…the defense funding bill, that is.
Sanders posted that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear that he wants to pass the defense bill despite President Trump’s veto, and an override attempt is slated for later Tuesday.
The House took the first step to override the president’s veto of the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act on Monday in a 322-87 vote.
Sanders tweeted that McConnell wants to vote to override Trump’s veto “and then head home for the New Year,” but he wrote, “I’m going to object until we get a vote on legislation to provide a $2,000 direct payment to the working class.”
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said he would join Sanders until there is a vote on the $2,000 relief.
“That relief passed in the House today with 44 Republicans voting for it. Senate Republicans must do the same and get the American people the help they need,” he posted.
Warren Gunnels, the staff director for Sanders, tweeted that McConnell is expected to ask for “Unanimous Consent” to vote on the veto override and his boss will object until “we get a vote on $2,000 direct payments.”
“We can force the Senate to stay in session until the New Year. This is no bluff,” he posted.
Politico reported that Sanders will filibuster McConnell’s attempt to override Trump’s defense bill veto. The report said that Sanders cannot stop the override vote, but can delay it until New Year’s Day.
A source close to Sanders told the news website that the Georgia Senate runoffs were also a factor in his decision and would keep Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in Washington for a greater stretch before the Jan. 5 vote.
Trump has been an advocate for a larger payout to Americans who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump repeated his frustrations with the COVID-19 relief bill for providing only $600 checks to most Americans instead of the $2,000 that his fellow Republicans already rejected.
“As President, I have told Congress that I want far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child,” Trump said in a statement issued by White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere on Sunday. “Much more money is coming. I will never give up my fight for the American people!”
But some Senate Republicans appear to be concerned about runaway spending. The Associated Press reported that McConnell has not publically addressed his approach to the issue, but the Kentucky Republican did praise Trump for signing the COVID-19 bill to get money in the pockets of struggling Americans.
After bipartisan approval for the increased payments by the House, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said, “There is no good reason for Senate Republicans to stand in the way.”
“There’s strong support for these $2,000 emergency checks from every corner of the country,” Schumer said in a statement late Monday.
He called on McConnell to make sure the Senate helps “meet the needs of American workers and families who are crying out for help.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report