- After Democrats pulled off a stunning victory in Georgia late Tuesday evening, another round of direct payments to Americans could be likely.
- The victories give Democrats control of the Senate for the first time in six years.
- Once President-elect Joe Biden takes office, the Democratic party will have control over Congress and the White House.
- Biden has previously said that he intends to send out $2,000 stimulus checks.
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After Democrats swept the Georgia runoffs, another round of direct payments to millions of Americans could be on the horizon soon.
Democratic challengers Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff pulled off stunning defeats in Georgia late Tuesday evening, ousting incumbent Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, according to projections from Insider and Decision Desk HQ. The newly-elected lawmakers made history, as Warnock becomes the first ever Black senator of Georgia and Ossoff the first Jewish senator of the state.
The wins also give Democrats the ultimate political prize: full control over the presidency, the House, and the Senate. The Senate will be evenly split 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote.
As President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office in two weeks, a united government offers him the opportunity to fulfill his ambitious agenda. Earlier this week, Biden said wins by Warnock and Ossoff would allow him to deliver $2,000 stimulus checks that aim to combat the devastating economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Their election would put an end to the block in Washington on that $2,000 stimulus check, that money that will go out the door immediately to people who are in real trouble," Biden said Monday at a campaign rally in Georgia. "If you send senators Perdue and Loeffler back to Washington, those checks will never get there."
Biden's transition team did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, expected to become the next Senate majority leader, backed the policy on Wednesday.
"Senate Democrats know America is hurting. Help is on the way," the New York Democrat said. "And we have two new senators coming to help. One of the first things that I want to do when our new senators are seated is deliver the $2,000 checks to the American families."
The latest coronavirus stimulus package, worth roughly $900 billion, passed in December after nearly nine months of on-and-off talks between congressional leaders and White House lead negotiator Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Biden applauded the bipartisan package, but also said the "work is far from over."
"Immediately, starting in the new year, Congress will need to get to work on support for our COVID-19 plan, for support to struggling families, and investments in jobs and economic recovery," Biden said in a statement after the bill was passed. "There will be no time to waste."
One of the bill's major components was $600 in direct payments for Americans earning up to $75,000. Before signing the bill, President Donald Trump raised the idea of bumping up the checks to $2,000, a stance immediately backed by Democrats but rejected by Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Trump approved the bill as-is, but continued pushing for the bigger-sized checks. The House, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, swiftly passed a standalone bill on the additional relief. Yet prospects for the aid dimmed as McConnell refused to bring the legislation to a vote on the Senate floor, describing it as "socialism for the rich." Instead, he put forth a new bill that included the $2,000 checks packaged with two other Trump priorities - investigating voter fraud in the 2020 elections and removing legal protections for social media companies - which Democrats shunned as poison pills. Democrats opposed the bill, and the $2,000 stimulus checks were killed as Congress began a new session on Sunday.
Pelosi has not yet indicated whether she will consider a new bill to Congress on $2,000 checks, though she advocated for the higher direct payments last week. Her office did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have previously indicated that they support larger checks. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina pushed for the $2,000 figure, in a rare break from McConnell. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont also pushed for the $2,000 direct payments last week. "Let's do our job," he said.
At least one moderate-leaning Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, had expressed skepticism toward the direct payments in early December. The Washington Post reported that Manchin argued that unemployment benefits were more sufficient than additional checks.
The Treasury Department has sent out most of the $600 direct payments. According to Insider polling in December, 62% of 1,123 Americans surveyed said the amount was too little. A poll by the progressive think tank Data for Progress revealed that nearly half of Americans said they blame Republicans for "the delay in reaching a consensus on the checks."
Unemployment rates still remain above pre-pandemic levels, as the coronavirus rages across the country, infecting an average of 219,684 people per day over the past week, according to the New York Times. The disease has killed 357,394 Americans so far.