Sen. Marco Rubio renewed his call for $2,000 stimulus checks. In a letter to President-elect Joe Biden, the Florida Republican suggested boosting economic relief could bring national unity.
“It would send a powerful message to the American people if, on the first day of your presidency, you called on the House and Senate to send you legislation to increase the direct economic impact payments to Americans struggling due to the pandemic from $600 to $2,000,” Rubio wrote to the incoming Democratic President.
Rubio last month was among few Republican Senators supporting a Democratic House proposal with the larger stimulus checks. The House hastily passed a version of the COVID-19 economic relief package after President Donald Trump said he favored larger checks.
At the time, Rubio criticized Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi for rejecting administration offers for $1,200 checks during negotiations. Ultimately, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell scuttled any movement on the larger payouts.
Since that time, Democrats won two Senate seats in Georgia, which means control of the chamber flips from Republicans Democrats once Vice President-elect Kamala Harris takes office to cast a tie-breaking vote in a 50-50 Senate.
Now Rubio sees the opportunity to bring larger stimulus payments up for consideration again.
“Millions of working class families are in dire need of additional relief, which is why I supported this effort last month. Unfortunately, the Senate was not able to consider the House-passed bill,” he said. “Although I share many of my colleagues’ concerns about the long-term effects of this additional spending, we simply cannot ignore the fact that millions of working class families across the nation are still in desperate need of relief.”
It’s an appeal to which Biden will likely respond. The President-elect signaled earlier this month that if Democrats won the Senate, then “$2,000 checks will go out the door.”
Rubio said beyond providing economic relief to families still struggling as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the economy, including Florida’s visitor-dependent tourism industry, the stimulus could bring healing at a time when the nation needs it. Capitol riots, driven by Trump supporters as Congress met to certify Biden’s Electoral College victory, escalated a high-emotion election to an attempted violent insurrection.
“At a time when they need it most, we must recognize the positive message it would send to the American people and the entire world if Republicans and Democrats came together on January 20, 2021 to put the American people first,” Rubio wrote.
But Rubio stressed the need for a clean stimulus bill.
“All too often, popular and necessary legislation is used as leverage to secure passage for policies that cannot pass on their own merit,” he wrote. “We have already seen it in the midst of the pandemic when additional funding for small businesses was blocked repeatedly for months on end. Please do not allow direct payments to the American people to get caught up in the normal political games by adding a wish list of far left or other unrelated priorities to this legislation.”
Rubio ran for President in 2016 and is widely considered a contender to challenge Biden, or whoever becomes the Democratic nominee, in 2024. But he suggested the wounds in the country today make bipartisan work on behalf of the people all the more important.
“Although I will disagree with your administration frequently over the next four years, I am committed to working in good faith to advance critically important and effective policies on behalf of the people of this great nation,” Rubio wrote. “True recovery — economically, politically, culturally, and spiritually — will take time, and it will require creativity that spans beyond the typical partisan divides in Washington. We do not need partisan stunts, more show votes, or cynical ploys.
“You have the ability to help break the paralysis in Washington by delivering desperately needed relief. I implore you to rise above the rhetoric and deliver an increase in assistance for American families.”