McConnell knows adding $2,000 checks to this bill would cost hundreds of billions more. In order for it to pass, McConnell would need 12 Republicans to sign on and right now, it’s not clear that many exist. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, has said he’d back the payments. And Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, has been a strong proponent of stimulus checks. But, a vote on the issue would undoubtedly divide the Republican conference and force Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue to take a tough vote just days ahead of their runoff election. It would also expose members who vote no to the ire of a President who has never taken kindly to being crossed.
That doesn’t mean McConnell doesn’t go that direction. A vote for $2,000 checks could also boost Perdue and Loeffler in their races if they voted for it. The provision is popular. And, even if the measure didn’t pass, putting it on the floor would demonstrate to the President that McConnell tried, but the votes just weren’t there. McConnell, as usual, has been seeking the input of his members.
It’s also possible, and some Democratic aides CNN has spoken with are fearful that McConnell could tie a vote on $2,000 checks to a less popular provision making it tougher for Democrats to vote for. Remember, that Trump argued he’d gotten assurances that the Senate would also take up a repeal of Section 230, which protects web companies from liability for what third party users post on their sites. That would scramble party lines and make a vote on $2,000 checks much harder for Democrats to swallow.