Joe Biden presses ahead with $1,400 stimulus checks without GOP support as McConnell vows to halt Democrats' bill

JOE Biden is powering ahead with $1,400 stimulus checks without Republican support – but Mitch McConnell has vowed to halt the Democrats’ bill.

During an intense voting 'marathon', the Senate Minority Leader warned Republicans were "ready and waiting" to challenge the Covid stimulus package with 400 amendments.

“Senate Republicans will be ready and waiting with a host of amendments to improve the rushed procedural step that’s being jammed through,” Mr McConnell warned.

He added: “We’ll be getting senators on the record about whether taxpayers should fund checks for illegal immigrants.

"[Also], whether Democrats should raise taxes on small businesses in the midst of this historic crisis; and whether generous federal funding should pour into school districts where the unions refuse to let school open.

“And this is just a small taste.”

His fiery remarks came ahead of a marathon debate over Mr Biden's $1.9trillion coronavirus aid plan.

It was voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to exclude upper-income Americans from a new round of direct payments to help stimulate the economy.

The Senate approved an amendment recommending that high-income earners not qualify for a new round of government checks that could amount to $1,400 for individuals.

Republican Senator Rand Paul was the lone dissenter in the 99-1 vote.

If an agreement is reached this week, Americans could receive their third round of $1,400 stimulus checks within just eight days.

Mr Biden told the senators during a two-hour meeting he's unwilling to settle on an insufficient coronavirus aid package.

They had pitched a slimmed down $618 billion proposal that's a fraction of the $1.9 trillion he is seeking.

The GOP's $1,000 direct payments would go to fewer households than the $1,400 Biden has proposed, and the Republicans offer only a fraction of what he wants to reopen schools.

According to Roll Call, among the hundreds of amendments are:

  • A challenge against setting the minimum wage to $15 an hour
  • Point of order against “legislation that would result in job loss in the oil and gas industry"
  • A call to fund the “reopening of public schools immediately"
  • Provide $4,200 per year for every preschool child and $3,000 annually for every school-age child

Business Insider explains that the barrage of amendments are aimed at watering down Mr Biden's Covid stimulus package.

The website adds that "a 'vote-a-rama' is a typical response to the use of budget reconciliation and is usually painful".

Debate over the 400 amendments will keep the Senate at logger-heads for hours.

Most legislation must get at least 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate to pass.

But the chamber is divided 50-50 and Republicans oppose Mr Biden's proposal.

Reconciliation would allow the Senate's 48 Democrats and two independents who align with them to approve the relief package with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris.

Senate Democrats and the Biden administration have left the door open for Republican support.

But they have urged comprehensive legislation to move quickly to help cope with the pandemic which has killed more than 450,000 Americans and left millions jobless.

"Seeing long lines of people waiting to get food around the country is something we should never see in the United States," US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on ABC News' Good Morning America program.

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