President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to deliver $2,000 stimulus checks after he takes office on January 20, and with control of both chambers of Congress, Americans are expecting Democrats to make good on the promise. However, with Joe Manchin of West Virginia having signaled opposition to the measure, the party may need the support of at least one Republican senator to pass the bill.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is slated to be a Republican who will cross party lines to vote for boosting the $600 stimulus checks to $2,000. In a letter to Biden on Wednesday, Rubio demonstrated his staunch support for the measure by urging the incoming president to move on direct payments on his first day in office.
“It would send a powerful message to the American people if, on the first day of your presidency, you called on the House and Senate to send you legislation to increase the direct economic impact payments to Americans struggling due to the pandemic from $US600 to $US2,000,” Rubio wrote.
The Republican also advised Biden to push for a standalone vote to ensure that the checks “don’t get caught up in the normal political games.”
“You have the ability to help break the paralysis in Washington by delivering desperately needed relief,” he wrote. “I implore you to rise above the rhetoric and deliver an increase in assistance for American families.”
Democrats campaigned heavily on the $2,000 checks in the lead up to the Georgia Senate runoffs, promising that they would deliver the bill if their candidates, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, succeed against Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loefller. Both Democrats won the seats last week, securing the party control of the Senate—with a 50-50 split and Kamala Harris having the tiebreaking vote.
If the budget reconciliation procedure is used, Democrats need 50 votes to pass the measure. Manchin initially said “absolutely no” to $2,000 checks in a recent interview with The Washington Post, but in follow up remarks, the Democrat said he may consider supporting targeted direct payments. If Manchin opposes, Democrats will need to find at least one Republican senator to vote for the bill.
Three Republicans in the upper chamber—Rubio, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina—have previously endorsed the checks. Of the trio, Rubio has been the only one who has continued to aggressively push for the measure post-Georgia runoffs, and his letter to Biden on Tuesday indicates that he would vote in favor.
After President Donald Trump pushed for $2,000 checks late last year, a measure passed the House, but outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell repeatedly blocked a vote. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will soon decide the bills that reach the Senate floor and he has vowed to prioritize direct payments when he takes leadership.
“The job of COVID emergency relief is far from complete,” Schumer wrote in a letter to colleagues on Tuesday. “Democrats wanted to do much more in the last bill and promised to do more, if given the opportunity, to increase direct payments to a total of $2,000.”
Biden is expected to release his new stimulus plan this week, which will likely include additional direct payments and expanded unemployment benefits.
Newsweek reached out to Rubio’s office for comment.
Marco Rubio Will Likely Help Democrats Pass $2,000 Stimulus Checks The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Newsweek.