Bernie Sanders To Filibuster Defense Bill Override Unless Senate Votes On $2,000 Checks

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Andrew Trunsky Political Reporter
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Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said that he will filibuster a Senate override of President Donald Trump’s military bill veto unless the chamber votes on legislation providing $2,000 checks to Americans.

“McConnell and the Senate want to expedite the override vote and I understand that,” Sanders told reporters Monday evening. “But I’m not going to allow that to happen unless there is a vote, no matter how long that takes, on the $2,000 direct payment.”

The House overwhelmingly voted to override Trump’s NDAA veto Monday, and the Senate is expected to do the same after originally passing the bill 84-13. Though the senator is unable to permanently block the override vote, he can delay it into 2021, keeping senators in D.C. through the end of the year and possibly complicating things for Senate Republicans.

Though Trump said that the Senate would “start the process” on passing $2,000 checks when he signed the $900 relief bill Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not committed to doing so and has yet to schedule a vote on the legislation. It passed the House Monday after a 275-134 vote, including 44 Republicans who voted in favor.

Before Trump came out in favor of $2,000 payments Senate Republicans largely held firm to the idea of $600 payments. Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson twice blocked a bid for $1,200 from Sanders and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley earlier this month.

A vote on $2,000 payments could also create complication for Georgia Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, which was a factor in Sanders’ ultimate decision, Politico reported. Both have been noncommittal towards their support for higher payments, and a filibuster could result in them having to stay in D.C. through the new year instead of being on the campaign trial in the final days before their Jan. 5 runoffs. (RELATED: The Numbers In Georgia Point To Two Tossup Races)

Sander’s procedural move is rare, because a veto override already requires a two-thirds majority to pass instead of a simple majority, but is a delay tactic allowed under Senate rules, according to the Congressional Research Service.

“The American people are desperate, and the Senate has got to do its job before leaving town,” Sanders said, according to Politico. “It would be unconscionable, especially after the House did the right thing, for the Senate to simply leave Washington without voting on this.”

Legislation authorizing $2,000 checks would need 60 votes to pass the Senate, meaning that 12 GOP senators would need to vote in favor assuming every Democrat does so as well. Though unclear if $2,000 checks have that much support, some Republican senators, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, have come out in support in recent days.

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