All eyes were on Georgia Tuesday night, and the United States woke up to the news that the Democrats were poised to take both seats in the runoff election: Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) defeated Kelly Loeffler (R), while Jon Ossoff (D) is on track to beat David Perdue (R). It was all thanks to hard-working organizers, who officially flipped the state — and therefore the Senate — giving all three branches of political power a new start in 2021.
Now, the Senate is, technically, by a narrow margin, controlled by Democrats. With an equal number of Republican and Democratic Senators , Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, a Democrat, will be the Senate's tie-breaking vote. This also means swift changes in voting measures, which could happen as early as day one in session. Most Americans likely hope that on the list of priorities for policies to pass on Day 1 is the $2,000 stimulus check payment that was previously rejected by former Senate Majority (now Minority) Leader Mitch McConnell.
So, what's the status of this proposed plan? Pandemic relief has been stalled and debated for months now. After the initial $1,200 checks went out in April, most Americans did not see any more money from the government until the measly $600 checks went out last month. For those that were receiving the $600 per week unemployment benefits, those ended as well. The question now is, will the Democrats pass the $2,000 stimulus checks and, if so, how soon can Americans expect to actually get it?
The Senate could literally take a vote on their first day in session, which is Wednesday, January 6 and then not again until Wednesday, January 20 — since it was McConnell who was holding up the vote and calling the checks “socialism for rich people.” GOP Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) disagreed, tweeting, “With all due respect to my Republican colleagues, a $2k direct payment for individuals and families who are struggling is not socialism.”
As a reminder, the $2,000 checks have already been voted on and passed the House, meaning it’s the Senate who needs to vote next; they adjourned without voting on the issue. And it didn’t break down along party lines, either: in addition to the Democrats, many Senate Republicans (with a major push from Senator Bernie Sanders) all pushed for the $2,000 checks, as did President Trump.
For the duration, senate Democrats have said that pushing through the $2,000 relief checks is a priority. “President-elect Joe Biden has made clear that the pandemic relief bill that Congress passed is simply a down payment on the work that needs to continue,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the chair of the House Democratic caucus, said, according to USA TODAY. “We’re going to continue to fight for a $2,000 direct payment check.”
Here's hoping the Democrats keep their word; $2,000 is the least the government can do to support people who are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. While that amount likely won't even cover one month worth of expenses for an average family, it's better than $600 — and better than nothing at all.