Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said Wednesday that he would “beg” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to have a clean vote on $2,000 stimulus checks, warning that the GOP will lose its majority in the Senate if additional funds are not approved.
Speaking Wednesday on Fox News, Gingrich said the $2,000 payment must be brought up as a stand-alone vote ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff elections in Georgia that will determine the balance of power in the upper chamber.
Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), who will face off against Democrats John Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, respectively, next week, support the payment.
President Trump is pushing Congress to pass the additional $2,000 stimulus after he grudgingly signed a $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief deal that is sending out $600 to those who qualify.
“I would beg him to bring up $2,000 payment as a free-standing independent vote, and have people like Sens. Loeffler and Perdue come back and vote for it,” Gingrich said. “Take it off the table as an issue because, frankly, Warnock and Ossoff could be in favor of the $2,000 unit and can attack Mitch McConnell for the next six days, and I think it’s very hard at that point to win the race.”
The balance of power in the Senate is at stake in the Jan. 5 runoffs. If Republicans win one seat, they’ll hold a slim majority. If Democrats win them both, they’ll effectively control the Senate as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will cast tie-breaking votes.
The House has passed a measure to send out the additional stimulus but McConnell on Tuesday blocked a stand-alone vote on the bill. McConnell could bring it back up wrapped with provisions to strip tech companies of protection from lawsuits and to investigate election fraud, but those additions would likely be dealbreakers for Democrats.
“The long term control of the U.S. Senate lies in Georgia,” Gingrich said. “Both Georgia senators have endorsed the $2,000 payment that President Trump has proposed, and Mitch ought to bring it up with a clean vote.”
“I really am very worried that if he plays a clever parliamentary game, it may look good inside the Senate but it could cost us two Senate seats and control of the Senate,” he added.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday introduced his own version of a bill to increase the $600 stimulus checks from the coronavirus relief package to $2,000, but also included two other major priorities for President Trump.
The legislation would also repeal Section 230, the controversial liability protection for online platforms, and create a committee on the Election Assistance Commission to study election integrity.
McConnell set the table for a bill to address these three issues in his floor remarks Tuesday.
“During this process, the president highlighted three additional issues of national significance he would like to see Congress tackle together,” McConnell said, before listing off the president’s grievances about the amount of the stimulus payment, Section 230 and the election.
“Those are the three important subjects the president has linked together,” McConnell said. “This week, the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus.”
The remarks were not a firm promise that any of these issues would receive a vote or that McConnell would push particularly hard for them. And McConnell’s bill itself is unlikely to gain the support of the 60 senators that would be needed to break a filibuster. Some Republicans, especially the handful who have already said they favor $2,000 stimulus checks, would likely back the bill, but most Democrats probably will not vote for it due to the other issues McConnell’s bill addresses.
What McConnell’s bill could do, however, is allow GOP senators who want to be able to say they voted for $2,000 stimulus checks to do so while protecting priorities of the majority of his caucus which has previously opposed the checks.