An attempt to increase the latest stimulus checks to $2,000 has hit a roadblock in the U.S. Senate. Supporters of the additional payments, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), say Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is the sole person standing in the way.
The recent coronavirus relief measure passed by Congress contained a $600 direct payment for qualifying Americans, but President Trump called on lawmakers to raise the amount to $2,000. Brown says there's wide support for those larger stimulus checks, with a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House voting Monday to increase the amount.
Brown accuses McConnell of delaying the vote in order to serve special interest groups.
"I don't think Mitch McConnell spends a lot of time talking to unemployed workers," Brown says. "He doesn't spend a lot of time talking to someone who's about to be evicted, doesn't spend a lot of time talking to a single parent who just struggles every day."
Although McConnell introduced a measure to the Senate that would increase the direct payments, Brown said he tied it to unrelated legislation regarding tech company immunity and investigating alleged voter fraud – two other issues that Trump has called for.
"We just want McConnell to do it straight up or down, give people the chance to vote on it, let the public weigh in," Brown said.
Brown said the boost in direct payments is needed to help revamp local economies.
"Investing directly in people who make this country work helps pay the bills, it helps them get through this downturn, and it injects money into local economies that desperately need it," Brown says. "The more money people have, the more they spend at small businesses that are hurting now."
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who sponsored the latest $900 billion relief package, has not said yet whether he supports an increase to the stimulus checks.