BERNIE Sanders says he will delay an override of Donald Trump’s defense bill veto in a bid to secure $2,000 stimulus checks for Americans.
His vow came as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seemingly shut the door on the push for bigger Covid-19 relief payouts saying the country just can't afford them.
McConnell believes the $2,000 checks are too much to give out at the moment as the country's debt is already far too high amid the ongoing pandemic.
Sanders has now said he will now take advantage of Senate rules and filibuster – a delaying tactic -to keep Congress tied up to get what he wants.
"McConnell and the Senate want to expedite the override vote and I understand that. But I'm not going to allow that to happen unless there is a vote…on the $2,000 direct payment," he said,
The Vermont senator knows he can’t ultimately stop the veto override vote, but he can delay it until tomorrow ahead of new lawmakers being sworn in.
The $740 billion defense bill includes pay raises for soldiers and funds for much-needed new equipment.
Trump had threatened to veto the bill as it doesn't include a repeal of Section 230 -a regulation that shields internet companies from being liable for what is posted on their websites.
The bill also includes provisions to limit how much money Trump can move around for his border wall and another which would require the military to rename bases that honor figures from the Confederacy.
However, Sanders vowed not to let the Senate vote on the veto override until it addresses the situation with the $2,000 stimulus checks first.
McConnell blasted Sanders over his threat.
"Our colleague says he will slow down this vital bill unless he gets to muscle through another standalone proposal from Speaker Pelosi that would add roughly half a trillion dollars to the national debt,"he said.
The House has already voted to override the veto and the Senate needs to do the same for the defense legislation to become law.
On Wednesday, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer attempted to bring up a bill passed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi that will increase the $600 Covid checks already approved to the $2,000 Trump wants.
But McConnell dismissed the idea saying the money would go to plenty of households that just don't need it.
Speaking on Wednesday, he said: "Speaker Pelosi and leader Schumer are trying to pull a fast one on the President and the American people.
"They're hoping everyone just forgets about election integrity and [Sec. 230]. They're desperate to ignore those two parts of President Trump's request."
He also insisted "the Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democratic rich friends who don't need the help."
McConnell pushed for a "smart targeted aid" instead of "another firehose of money" and slammed the Democrats' proposal as an "unrealistic path to quickly pass the Senate."
He said the Senate will not "split apart the three issues Trump linked together just because Democrats are afraid to address two of them."
The three issues he was talking about are the $2,000 stimulus checks, repealing section 230, and voter fraud commission.
The showdown between the outgoing president and his own Republican Party over the checks has thrown Congress into a chaotic year-end session just days before new lawmakers are set to be sworn into office.
Trump has been berating the GOP leaders, and tweeted, "$2000 ASAP!"
President-elect Joe Biden also supports the payments and wants to build on what he calls a downpayment on relief.
"In this moment of historic crisis and untold economic pain for countless American families, the President-elect supports $2,000 direct payments as passed by the House," said Biden transition spokesman Andrew Bates.
For a second day in a row, Senator Schumer tried to force a vote on the bill approved by the House meeting Trump's demand for the $2,000 checks.
"What were seeing right now is Leader McConnell trying to kill the checks the $2,000 checks desperately needed by so many American families," he said.
It's been reported the first of the $600 stimulus checks have already started to drop into bank accounts.
The second round of checks come roughly 10 months into the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic recession.
It’s half the amount of the first $1,200 check and begins to phase out for individuals making more than $75,000 per year and married couples filing jointly making $150,000.
The payment is intended to help struggling families and individuals pay the essentials such as rent, utilities and food.
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