Senate Republicans blocked another Democratic effort to secure a vote on boosting direct payments from $600 to $2,000 on Friday. In a floor speech, McConnell disparaged the measure, calling it “socialism for rich people” and a “universal cash giveaway.”
“With all due respect to my Republican colleagues, a $2k direct payment for individuals and families who are struggling is not socialism,” Graham tweeted. “In my view it is necessary in the times in which we live.”
The South Carolina Senator insisted that “direct payments may not be [the] most efficient way to help people in need but, given the situation we face, are extremely necessary.”
“Going from $600 to $2,000 doesn’t make you a socialist. Mr. President, keep fighting for the American people who are suffering. Insist on a standalone vote,” Graham added.
Newsweek reached out to McConnell’s office for comment.
President Donald Trump joined some Democrats and Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent, in opposing the $900 billion bipartisan relief bill for only including a “measly $600” earlier this month. He initially refused to back the measure without $2,000 checks, but later capitulated on Sunday and signed the package from his Mar-a-Lago estate, narrowly avoiding a government shutdown.
At the time, Trump said Republicans had agreed to a new vote on $2,000 stimulus checks and urged members of his party to get it done. The Democratic-led House narrowly passed $2,000 stimulus checks on Monday. But McConnell has repeatedly blocked the legislation from securing a vote in the Senate.
Graham, a Trump loyalist who publicly backed larger stimulus checks after spending time with the president at his Florida golf club on Christmas Day, applauded the signing. “Congress will vote on additional stimulus checks and repealing Section 230—all wins for the American people,” he tweeted earlier this week. “Well done Mr. President!”
Sanders also disputed McConnell’s remarks on the Senate floor on New Year’s Day. He accused the Republican leader of hypocrisy for calling stimulus checks “socialism for the rich” despite supporting massive tax breaks for corporations.
“That is what socialism for the rich is about,” Sanders said of the tax cuts. “Socialism for the rich is not—in the midst of this terrible pandemic—putting a $2,000 check into the hands of working families.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stressed the urgency of holding a vote before the current Congress ends on Sunday. “I’ll ask consent for the final time that the Senate set a time for a vote on the House bill to provide $2,000 checks. I’ve done it every day this week,” he said on the Senate floor.
“This is it—the last chance for the 116th Congress to pass $2,000 checks and to say to regular Americans that help is on the way. Let’s have a vote.”