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‘No bluff’: Bernie Sanders may filibuster defense bill veto override in bid for $2k stimulus checks

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Socialist Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tweeted out late Monday that he is strongly considering filibustering the defense bill veto override to force legislation that would increase the direct payment amounts to many Americans from $600 to $2,000. It’s a move that President Trump is supporting as well – he tweeted: “Give the people $2000, not $600. They have suffered enough!”

Sanders has zeroed in on the defense funding bill as the weak spot in the Republicans’ armor. He believes if he pokes it hard enough they will cave in support of what Sanders refers to as ‘the working class’.

Sanders announced his plan to stall the Senate’s vote on overriding the president’s veto of a huge defense bill unless leaders agree to hold a vote on increasing the amount given to Americans in coronavirus relief funds.

Bernie stated that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear he wants to pass the defense bill despite President Trump’s veto, and an override attempt is slated for later Tuesday. The House took the first step to override the president’s veto of the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act on Monday in a 322-87 vote.

In a tweet that Sanders sent out, he said that McConnell wants to vote to override Trump’s veto “and then head home for the New Year,” but he wrote, “I’m going to object until we get a vote on legislation to provide a $2,000 direct payment to the working class.”

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) also proclaimed that he would join Sanders until there is a vote on the $2,000 relief.

“That relief passed in the House today with 44 Republicans voting for it. Senate Republicans must do the same and get the American people the help they need,” he posted.

They are going to force everyone to take a stand and show exactly who is supporting more financial relief for Americans during the pandemic. It puts Republicans in a very bad spot. Many are standing against the larger checks because of fiscal repercussions. But those ring hollow to many Americans considering the amount of pork these bills are laden with.

Warren Gunnels, who is the staff director for Sanders, tweeted that McConnell is expected to ask for “unanimous consent” to vote on the veto override and Sanders will object until “we get a vote on $2,000 direct payments.”

“We can force the Senate to stay in session until the New Year. This is no bluff,” he posted.

Sanders can’t stop the override vote but can delay it until New Year’s Day and make those standing in opposition look very bad politically to the hurting American people.

It’s also being rumored that the Georgia Senate runoffs were a factor in his decision and would keep Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in Washington for a greater stretch before the Jan. 5 vote. This would allow the Democratic candidates in Georgia longer to campaign and win votes in that key state, potentially throwing the power of the Senate to the Democrats.

Trump doubled down on his frustration with the COVID-19 relief bill for providing only $600 checks to most Americans instead of the $2,000 that Republicans have already rejected.

“As President, I have told Congress that I want far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child,” Trump said in a statement issued by White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere on Sunday. “Much more money is coming. I will never give up my fight for the American people!”

After bipartisan approval for the increased payments by the House, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said, “There is no good reason for Senate Republicans to stand in the way.”

“There’s strong support for these $2,000 emergency checks from every corner of the country,” Schumer said in a statement late Monday.

He called on McConnell to make sure the Senate helps “meet the needs of American workers and families who are crying out for help.”

Democrats used a fast-track procedure to get the bill through the House, meaning two-thirds of the representatives needed to sign on.

All but two House Democrats who voted Monday were joined by 44 Republicans to get the bill through, with the final vote total being 275 yeas to 134 nays.

Twenty-one lawmakers didn’t vote.

This has paved the way for Sanders’ gambit. Though veto overrides can be filibustered, as Sanders plans to do, it is a rare procedural move because the veto override already requires 67 votes and the filibuster is simply a delay tactic, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Sanders said he hopes McConnell allows a vote on the checks on Wednesday.

“The American people are desperate, and the Senate has got to do its job before leaving town,” Sanders said. “It would be unconscionable, especially after the House did the right thing, for the Senate to simply leave Washington without voting on this.”

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