You probably already know that last night, the House voted 275-134 to pass a simple stand-alone bill that substitutes $2,000 for $600 for one-time stimulus checks in the massive pandemic relief bill that Congress passed last week, as Trump has demanded. Minority Leader McCarthy, who votes exactly how Trump tells him to vote, didn't vote at all. Among the 134 Republicans who voted against the survival checks were most of Trump's closest congressional allies, like Devin Nunes, Matt Gaetz, Steve Scalise Louie Gohmert, Tom Emmer, Mike Johnson, Ken Buck, Gym Jordan, Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs. None of them would have ever opposed Trump if he asked them not to.
44 Republicans-- many in swing districts where they could be vulnerable in 2022-- voted with the Democrats for the bill and 2 of Congress' worst Democrats crossed the aisle in the other direction and voted against it-- slimy Blue Dogs Dan Lipinski, who is a lame duck, and Kurt Schrader (OR), who is likely to be a major primary target in 2022.
Marie Newman, who beat Lipinski this year and will replace him in a week reassured her constituents last night that "In less than a week, Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District will have a Representative that knows damn well that a $600 stimulus check is not nearly enough to support American families who continue to struggle every single day due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are eight months overdue for a $2,000 direct payment bill and I applaud each of my colleagues that voted yes today to push this effort closer to reality. Now is the time for Republicans in the Senate to join Democrats and pass this legislation tomorrow so that we can finally put this money directly in the pockets of the American people. This fight is long from over, which is why I am deeply committed to working with the rest of the 117th Congress to ensure our residents receive the federal support and relief they need and deserve.”
Mark Gamba, Mayor of Milwaukie, Oregon, ran a good campaign against Schrader this year but didn't win the seat. Hopefully he'll run again in 2022. When I asked him about Schrader's vote last night, he told me that he's "sure it's difficult, for someone who has grown up in wealth and never struggled a day in his life to empathize with folks who live paycheck to paycheck. They just can't imagine what it's like for parents to choose between paying the rent or buying the desperately needed insulin for their child. They've never had to worry about rent at all since they've always owned their home (or three). So it comes as no surprise that the most out of touch 'Democrat' in Congress voted against the $2,000 survival checks that even Donald Trump advocated for AND that several republicans voted for. Kurt Schrader simply has no concept what it is like for families that were gig workers who have not received unemployment since work dried up back in March. Of course he'll spout some nonsense about the deficit and then turn around and gleefully vote for another tax break for his fellow millionaires. The startling difference is that when you give a poor person $2,000 it will go straight back into the economy to catch up on rent or put a little something in the fridge, whereas when you give several hundred thousand to a millionaire or billionaire they just horde it, probably in an offshore account. Schrader is a congressman from a working class district, but he represents only the giant corporations that keep his campaign coffers stacked with cash."
One Republican in a swing district who neither fears nor respects his constituents is Don Bacon (R-NE). He was one of the few self-proclaimed "moderates" to vote against the survival checks. Kara Eastman, the progressive Democrat who nearly ousted him in November told me this morning that "Bacon is a terrible Congressman who does not represent the best interests of the people he has the honor of serving. He has duped voters into believing he is a moderate who represents a swing district. In fact, he is a radical who is so out of touch, he cannot fathom the true suffering of so many people in the district. Just with his Congressional salary, he makes about $600 a day and believes that an individual can live on that for a month."
The Senate should take up the bill today but McConnell has indicated he has no intention of doing so. He wants to take the vote on overriding Trump's veto of the Defense bill and then adjourn for the year, jeopardizing the two Republican senators in runoff election a week from today, as well as his own position as majority leader. Bernie has indicated he will filibuster the Defense bill until McConnell agrees to hold a vote (by unanimous consent) on the survival checks.
Schumer lectured Trump about passing a bill be wants to be seen demanding: "These Senate Republicans have followed you through thick and thin... talking is not enough. Act. Get on the phone and get those Republicans in the Senate to support $2,000 in relief." Trump has been golfing and has no interest in actually passing the bill, just being seen to have advocated for it.
Bernie, fighting for working families, as always: "The House has passed a $2,000 direct payment for working people. It is time for the Senate to act. This week on the Senate floor Mitch McConnell wants to vote to override Trump's veto of the $740 billion defense funding bill and then head home for the New Year. I'm going to object until we get a vote on legislation to provide a $2,000 direct payment to the working class. Let me be clear: If Senator McConnell doesn't agree to an up or down vote to provide the working people of our country a $2,000 direct payment, Congress will not be going home for New Year's Eve. Let's do our job."