Hoe, boy, they say legislation is dull. Not in Trump world. The latest monkey wrench that Donald Trump has thrown into the machinery of government is to get up and announce that the Senate will look into $2,000 stimulus checks, plus Section 230, plus his favorite, voter fraud. And Mitch McConnell has said that he will look into those very things — all grouped together and tied up with a bow. And that’s what’s intriguing. CNN:
“Those are the three important subjects the President has linked together,” he said of $2,000 stimulus checks, an investigation into (nonexistent) voter fraud and a repeal of Section 230, a part of the Communications Decency Act that alleviates liability for social media companies for what their users post.
Notice the words “linked together” from McConnell. As in, Trump linked that trio of issues together — and McConnell will, too. (McConnell’s move Tuesday afternoon to combine the larger stimulus checks with the elimination of Section 230 suggests this is, indeed, the direction he is headed.)
Why does it matter? Because, as I wrote earlier this week, a straight up-or-down vote on sending out $2,000 checks is a very, very tough one for Republicans — especially considering that every Democrat would vote for it.
But that vote becomes entirely different if the $2,000 checks are linked to a voter fraud investigation and the repeal of Section 230. Democrats would oppose such a measure en masse. And that would make it VERY unlikely that the bill would get the 60 votes it would need to end debate and push to a final floor vote.
This is undoubtedly the direction that McConnell will go because it shields him from having to expose his GOP senators to a straight vote on the $2,000. That would be very difficult. Instead, by linking the three items together, the senate will vote down the whole package. If Trump had really wanted the $2,000 checks he would have and could have negotiated for that a while back. He did not. He’s totally disengaged from the daily business of the House and Senate. As to Section 230 and voter fraud, these are personal beefs. So Trump is trying to use the $2,000 checks as a cudgel to get the other two line items taken care of and to look good for the base.
Nobody knows all this better than McConnell, who now has to stay on the high wire and try to humor the madman Trump that he’s really dancing up there, doing Trump’s bidding, while in fact what’s really going on is that he’s trying to do damage control, especially in the last week before the Georgia senate runoffs.
Here’s the manipulation of the moment.
.@SenatorLoeffler says she'll back Trump's demand for $2,000 stimulus checks this AM. "I've stood by the president 100% of the time. I'm proud to do that and I've said, absolutely, we need to get relief to Americans now and I will support that." #gasen https://t.co/wA8vJmQrzG
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) December 29, 2020
Both Loeffler and Perdue are saying they’re in favor of the increased payments, what else are they going to say the week before election?
So your nice Republican daddies and mommies are going to take care of you or so they want you to believe.
But guess who’s calling their bluff?
One possible wrench in this plan: Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders has said he will block the Senate’s override of Trump’s veto of the annual defense bill unless and until McConnell guarantees a vote on the $2,000 checks on their own.
This could get hot and heavy and quick. Additionally, both Warnock and Ossoff are on record as supporting the $2,000 checks — so it’s not like they’re losing any momentum over this most recent development. Au contraire, it may help their cause.
So here’s the bottom line: Can McConnell keep the Senate from a straight up and down vote on the $2,000 as a sole issue? Because that’s what he must do. Boil the water and throw in the tea leaves, it’s political prognostication time. This political snuff film that Trump has running is going to be strange until the very last second and the very last frame.