THE Senate convened today for a rare New Year's Day session after a plan to increase stimulus checks to $2,000 was blocked – again.
Meanwhile, Americans celebrated the latest round of much-needed $600 stimulus checks as they hit US bank accounts early this morning.
President Trump has requested the payout be increased – but the boost has been blocked by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who blasted yesterday "socialism is not for the rich".
He also described the money as a "universal cash giveaway," adding: "Borrowing from our grandkids to do socialism for rich people is a terrible way to get help to families who actually need it."
The Republican refused a vote on the cheques unless Dems agreed to take back legal protections for social media companies and establish a voter fraud commission.
With the congress session coming to an end Sunday, Democrats – and the handful of Republicans in favour of the change – are running out of time to push it through the Senate.
The boost has already been passed by the House, but if it has not been agreed by Sunday this becomes nullified and would have to be pushed through again.
The latest round hit bank accounts this morning, with Americans taking to social media to share their joy at the economic boost.
One person wrote: "Woke up to my Donnie Dollars deposit. 2021 rocks."
Another added: "When your paycheck hits with a holiday & OT shift on it the same day as your stimulus check. What a day to celebrate."
Back in the Senate, Bernie Sanders was quick to quip back at McConnell's comments – sniping yesterday: "The majority leader helped lead this body to pass Trump's tax bill. You want to talk about socialism for the rich Mr Majority Leader?!”
And today he upped the ante, hauling two huge checks to the Senate floor showing the millions in tax rebates companies like Amazon and Delta Airlines got.
He blasted: "Socialism for the rich is not — in the midst of this terrible pandemic — putting a $2,000 check into the hands of working families.
"I see, if I may say so, a bit of hypocrisy here."
Sanders today joined Sen Josh Hawley in an attempt to bring a vote on $2,000 checks legislation, as well as a vote on a McConnell-backed plan pairing the stimulus checks with measures on election security and big tech.
Both of these measures are also backed by Trump.
But Republican John Cornyn quashed all hopes of the increase, while Sen John Thune similarly said it was a "shotgun approach where a rifle makes a lot more sense."
"It is not targeted to help those who are most in need," he added.
Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer noted how despite the idea being backed mostly by the Dems, some republicans and even Mr Trump himself were in favour.
He told the Senate: "If the Senate does not take action today, $2,000 checks will not become law before the end of Congress and they will know that Leader McConnell and the Republican majority have prevented them from getting the checks — plain and simple.
"This is the last chance."
He added: "For once, we have progressive Democrats, conservative Republicans, the president himself and not to mention of course the majority — the vast majority of the American people singing from the same songbook in support of these checks."
The new stimulus package has an IRS deadline for January 15 – meaning payments must be decided and mailed by that date.
However, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said some people could see the $600 in their bank accounts by Wednesday.
Trump, who not only called the nominal $600 a disgrace but also threatened to veto the bill, has called on Republicans to pass the $2,000 checks "ASAP."
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