President Donald Trump’s after-the-fact pronunciation Tuesday night that he wanted to send Americans $2,000 checks — rather than the $600 that congressional Republicans had begrudgingly agreed to — has left the two Republican senators currently campaigning in Georgia in a tight spot.
On Wednesday, the richest member of Congress wasn’t willing to say that she supported the President’s call to amend legislation she voted to include larger stimulus checks.
Instead, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) simply said she would… take a look at it.
“I certainly support redirecting any wasteful spending to be very targeted at families and businesses who have been impacted by this virus through no fault of their own,” she told reporters in response to a question about the President’s demand, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Pressed again on the $2,000 figure, Loeffler said only, “I’ll certainly look at supporting it if it repurposes wasteful spending for that, yes.”
Loeffler will be on the Jan. 5 runoff election ballot alongside Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who has yet to comment on the President’s larger check proposal.
Meanwhile, the Democrats in the Jan. 5 runoff election — Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff — immediately said they fully supported quickly amending the stimulus package to change the $600 check amount to $2,000, matching calls from Democrats’ congressional leadership.
The Democratic Party smells blood.
“At a time when Georgians are struggling to pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads, Senator Kelly Loeffler still won’t fully commit to increasing economic stimulus checks as soon as possible even when the president she supports ‘100%’ calls for it,” state party spokesperson Alex Floyd said in a statement.
“There’s bipartisan support for delivering more relief to Georgians, but Loeffler would rather take a victory lap for a bill she didn’t help write and one Trump called a ‘disgrace’ than work to secure more aid for Georgians.”
Trump, by proposing a bump in the amount of cash welfare Americans receive, has put the two Georgia Republicans in a bind.
They could support the President’s new call for more money — one that White House aides reportedly talked Trump out of making while the stimulus package was actually being negotiated — or stay in line behind Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), perhaps angering Trump himself and cash-strapped supporters of his Georgia.
To twist the knife further: Perdue and Loeffler’s races were, reportedly, the primary reason for McConnell decision to support direct payments in the final weeks of 2020, after months of opposing them.
In a call with Republicans last week, McConnell said Loeffler and Perdue were “getting hammered” for not doing more to provide aid to Americans, The New York Times reported. That, the Times reported, was the basis for McConnell (and, following him, Republicans in the Senate) to come to the table on direct payments. Loeffler and Perdue touted their vote for the COVID-19 relief package — the one with $600 checks — on Tuesday.
Dems blocked relief & played politics w/ Georgians’ lives for MONTHS, but we never stopped fighting.
Last night, we delivered nearly $1 trillion in new aid — including new PPP funding, which already saved 1.5 million GA jobs. @Perduesenate & I will ALWAYS put GEORGIANS first.
— Kelly Loeffler (@KLoeffler) December 22, 2020
Democrats played politics with Americans’ livelihoods for months. @KLoeffler and I never stopped fighting for you — and never will. More relief is finally on the way.
— David Perdue (@Perduesenate) December 22, 2020
But now, the senators’ party leader says they’ve failed, and he wants more.
The late pressure from Trump may only play into existing anger from some die-hard supporters of the President, who allege that Perdue and Loeffler (and, for that matter, McConnell himself) are insufficiently supportive of the President and his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.