Senate Republicans on Friday twice blocked requests for votes on increasing pandemic relief checks from $600 to $2,000 for most Americans, something championed by President Donald Trump and passed by the House. It came a day before the current Congress was set to adjourn to make way for the new one.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer asked for a Senate vote on the $2,000 checks on Friday.
"The Senate can start off this new year by adding to that sense of hope, by sending $2,000 checks to struggling American families. The Senate can start off 2021 by really helping the American people," Schumer said on the Senate floor.
Schumer's request for a unanimous consent was blocked when Sen. John Thune, R-SD, objected, CNN reports. Thune called the proposal a "shot-gun approach, citing the national debt and calling for a more targeted approach.
In the Senate, a unanimous consent request can be blocked by the objection of any one senator.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. on Friday also called for unanimous consent on a plan introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Fox News reports. That plan would have tied the $2,000 checks to two other things Trump wants -- measures into election integrity and placing restrictions on social media companies.
That request was blocked when Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, objected on behalf of Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
Sanders' efforts for increased checks have been supported by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.
"The President of the United States said that's the level he supported ... this is the number he has asked for .. and yet we can't even seem to get a vote on it," Hawley said, according to CNN.
McConnell has shown little interest in $2,000 checks suggesting that the measure recently passed by the Democratic-controlled House Monday is a "universal cash giveaway" that is not targeted.
"A huge chunk would essentially be socialism for rich people, money flowing to households earning well into six figures who did not lose any jobs or income last year," McConnell said, echoing a statement he made Thursday.
The full payments would be for individuals who made $75,000 or less or couples who made $150,000 or less. The amount received would decrease, with individuals making more than $87,000 or couples earning more than $174,000 getting nothing.
For now, the smaller $600 checks are being sent to households.
There are just hours left for the current Congress to pass any $2,000 check legislation. The new Congress will be convened Sunday.