Key Senate Democrat says he’ll block $2,000 stimulus checks

By Susan Heavey | Reuters

WASHINGTON – Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin on Friday said he opposed the payment of bigger direct checks to help Americans cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, throwing cold water on possible further stimulus payments as the Democrats regain control of the Senate and the White House.

Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, a conservative stronghold, told the Washington Post in an interview that he would “absolutely not” support a new round of payments, despite Democratic leaders’ calls for $2,000 checks.

U.S. lawmakers pushed through $600 payments last month as part of a larger legislative package to address the novel coronavirus pandemic, in a compromise between the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and the Republican-controlled Senate.

The deal was threatened when President Donald Trump insisted that the checks must be for $2,000, despite his own administration’s backing of the $600 compromise, although he eventually signed it into law.

Manchin’s lack of support would complicate President-elect Joe Biden’s push for more direct aid to individuals.