Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill Tuesday evening which would offer increased $2,000 direct payments to individuals sought by Democrats and President Donald Trump, but adds legislation pertaining to social media companies and election fraud studies.
McConnell introduced the parallel pandemic relief bill on Tuesday, S.5085, which would include the $600 to $2,000 increase in checks to individual Americans, but tacks on a repeal of section 230 of the Communications Act of 1996 and funding for a commission to investigate voter fraud. Both of these additions to McConnell's surprise bill are demands which have been made by Trump for months. The Section 230 repeal would pull back protections for internet companies and allow such media companies as Twitter and Facebook to be sued if users feel wronged by messages on the platform.
McConnell has for months said he opposes added weekly unemployment benefits and only last week agreed with Democrats to add the $600 direct deposits for Americans struggling amid the pandemic.
Trump appeared to have predicted what McConnell's move would be this week after the White House came out in support, alongside Democrats, of the $2,000 stimulus relief checks to individual Americans. "The Senate will start the process for a vote that increases checks to $2,000, repeals Section 230, and starts an investigation into voter fraud," the president wrote in a Sunday statement, days before McConnell introduced nearly identical legislation.
"Big Tech must not get protections of Section 230!" Trump stated Sunday, in a request which McConnell appears to have granted by tacking the freedom of speech issue onto the $2,000 check stipulation. "Voter Fraud must be Fixed! Much more money is coming. I will never give my fight for the American people!"
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responded to McConnell's introduction of the bill as a "cynical gambit." Unclear in what exactly McConnell's legislative motives are, Schumer said the GOP Senate leader is attempting to undermine the $2,000 by adding Trump's election fraud and Section 230 repeal demands.
Twitter is going wild with their flags, trying hard to suppress even the truth. Just shows how dangerous they are, purposely stifling free speech. Very dangerous for our Country. Does Congress know that this is how Communism starts? Cancel Culture at its worst. End Section 230!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2020
"Senator McConnell knows how to make $2,000 survival checks reality and he knows how to kill them. If Sen. McConnell tries loading up bipartisan House-passed CASH Act with unrelated, partisan provisions that will do absolutely nothing to help struggling families across the country, it will not pass the House and cannot become law," Schumer said in a statement Tuesday evening.
McConnell for months has rejected Democrats' push for increased weekly direct payments to unemployed and struggling Americans.
In a Tuesday tweet, Trump warned the GOP after McConnell blocked the Senate vote that afternoon. The president said Republicans would lose their Georgia Senate runoffs if incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue were forced to vote on the issue before the January 5 runoff.
This story is developing, check back with Newsweek shortly for additional information about McConnell's Tuesday stimulus measure.Mitch McConnell talks to reporters. Tom Williams/Getty