09:15 GMT28 January 2021
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    Following months of legislative debate, US President Donald Trump has sent back a new COVID-19 relief bill, urging Congress to include larger payments to struggling families. However, the $2,000 amount he has proposed is larger than the $1,200 Democrats proposed before being argued down to $600 by Republicans.

    As debate raged in the US Senate on Tuesday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) rejected pleas for a quick vote on adding Trump’s proposed changes.

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) both urged a quick, unanimous consent vote on Trump’s requested increase of COVID-19 relief payments to families from $600 to $2,000, but McConnell rejected the move, giving an ambiguous answer on whether the issue would even get a vote.

    Noting the president "would like further direct financial support for American households” as well as an amendment removing Section 230 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act and a probe of the November 3 election Trump still has not conceded to having lost, McConnell said, "This week, the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus.”

    Originally introduced in May as a $2.2 trillion bill, McConnell’s stern rejection of another COVID-19 stimulus measure put the effort on “pause” until Democrats re-introduced an updated version in September. However, compromise after compromise has seen the bill whittled down to $900 billion and the direct payments to Americans halved from $1,200, as happened with the first relief bill in March, to just $600.

    However, McConnell’s primary concern this week is overriding Trump’s veto of another huge spending bill, the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which funds the Pentagon. He has set up a Wednesday vote on the override, which requires two-thirds of the Senate instead of a simple majority; the House of Representatives voted to override on Monday.

    ​Sanders, who voted against the NDAA on its first pass through Congress, pledged to slow down the override voting process until McConnell agreed to hold a vote on the $2,000 direct payment increase as well -  a gambit that has so far failed.


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