By: KDKA-TV News Staff
WASHINGTON (KDKA) - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked an effort to expand COVID-19 stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 on Tuesday.
The legislation has already passed the House of Representatives but Republicans say they don't want to spend additional money on stimulus.
However, according to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the $600 will begin going out as soon as today.
Pennsylvania's members of Congress are split on the issue of increasing the payment.
In a statement, Republican Senator Pat Toomey said that unemployment and grants are more effective than stimulus checks.
"Congress provided expanded unemployment benefits and grants to small businesses to cover payroll obligations in the recent COVID relief bill to help in this effort," the statement said. "This targeted assistance is far more effective, efficient, and appropriate than large universal payments to people who had no lost income."
Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Bob Casey said he supports the legislation for $2,000 checks.
"The House passed this measure by an overwhelming, bipartisan majority," Senator Casey's statement said. "The same could happen in the Senate if Majority Leader McConnell would get out of the way."
In the House, Congressman Conor Lamb supported the $2,000 payments, saying the original $600 offer is not enough.
"This isn't a welfare payment, this is emergency relief that people need for an unforeseen situation," Lamb said. "The fact is, it's just easier to cut a check to a large number of Americans like this at once rather than do things like the unemployment system, for example, where people wait in line forever and they have to have their applications reviewed."
Lamb said he expects McConnell to continue blocking the effort for higher payments.
McConnell said he would bring the $2,000 stimulus payment legislation up for a vote so long as it's tied to two priorities of President Trump, repealing protections for social media companies and creating a commission to study voter fraud in the 2020 election.
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