After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to score a victory with the new $900 billion coronavirus aid package, President Donald Trump blew up Republican plans and demanded new legislation that offers $2,000 stimulus payments for Americans — effectively supporting progressive calls for higher checks. According to progressive commentator Sam Seder, Trump’s recent announcement has sparked theories that he is making a play against McConnell.
“Some people say that by calling for bigger checks and refusing to sign McConnells subpar stimulus Trump is signaling to GA Republican voters ‘dont give McConnell the Senate,'” he tweeted.
Whether Trump is targeting McConnell’s power via the Georgia runoffs remains to be seen. Per CNN, over 1.6 million votes have been cast in the elections thus far in the crucial races that put Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock against incumbent GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively. Democrats must win both races to effectively take control of the Senate by giving Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote.
As noted by Fox News columnist Tyler Olsen, both Democrats in the race already backed Trump’s demand for larger checks and could use this support as a weapon against their opponents.
Elsewhere, The New Yorker claimed Trump has realized that he can wield his power outside of his plan to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, which has allegedly occupied much of his time in the post-election weeks.
“At some point, Trump appears to have noticed that there was life outside his coup fantasy, and more scope for him to cause trouble — especially for the treacherous McConnell,” the publication wrote.
The outlet noted that the head of state has “created disarray” for the GOP and could still walk back his recent demand.
“If he doesn’t, the outcome of this particular saga could have big consequences for American pocketbooks, the run-off elections in Georgia, and the polity that Biden inherits.”
McConnell acknowledged Biden’s victory last week after the Democrat was certified the winner of the 2020 election by the Electoral College. As reported by Axios, Trump turned on McConnell for congratulating his opponent’s win, and his allies followed suit and took aim at the upper chamber leader.
Columnist Sasha Abramsky speculated that McConnell is cutting his losses with Trump in a bid to maintain his power during the forthcoming administration. According to Seder and The New Yorker, Trump might be trying to damage the Republican leader’s influence on his way out.
McConnell fought against larger stimulus for months. He must now decide whether to back off of his long push for less funding or stand in the way of the bipartisan push for more money for struggling Americans.