Did Schumer and Pelosi ‘Shoot Down’ a COVID Relief Bill and $600 Checks for Americans?

As the global COVID-19 pandemic closed in on its first year, calls in the United States for second stimulus checks mounted in December 2020, the dubious right-wing blog DailyWire.com published an item (“Schumer, Pelosi Shoot Down Trump Covid Relief Bill That Includes $600 Checks For Americans”), which claimed:

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have rejected the White House’s $916 billion COVID-19 stimulus package plan, which included $600 direct payments to millions of Americans, citing an “unacceptable” reduction in unemployment insurance funds.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had reportedly informed the Trump administration on [December 8 2020] that they support the $600 checks.

Daily Wire linked to a short December 9 2020 Axios piece about stimulus talks:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tells Axios that both he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the White House they would support including $600 stimulus checks in a coronavirus relief deal being negotiated in Congress.


Between the lines: McConnell did not include a second round of stimulus payments in the relief framework he released last week [in December 2020]. On [December 8 2020], the Senate GOP leader [McConnell] also proposed removing both state and local aid provisions and a liability shield for businesses — the two most controversial provisions — to focus on passing what both parties agree on.

We examined a similar claim about Pelosi “blocking” second stimulus checks in December 2020, noting that Democrats including Schumer and Pelosi opposed packages which did not include a second round of direct payments to Americans (of any amount):

The Daily Wire’s reporting was also not entirely congruent with other reporting. For example, a December 10 2020 CBS News article about the state of negotiations around second stimulus checks reported:

A $908 billion bipartisan proposal would leave out stimulus payments, focusing instead on providing jobless workers with an additional $300 in weekly unemployment aid. On December 8 [2020], Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also proposed a $916 billion package that would provide stimulus checks worth $600 per person, although it would cut back on unemployment aid, according to the Wall Street Journal. A Treasury Department spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some senators, including Bernie Sanders of Vermont, are insisting that any new relief bill include another round of checks worth $1,200 for low- and middle-income Americans — the same amount offered under the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act this spring [2020].

On December 8 2020, Pelosi and Schumer issued a joint press release about the $916 billion package — the one with $600 payments. In it, Pelosi and Schumer’s use of the term “unacceptable” offered clear, unmistakable context:

Washington, D.C. – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) [on December 8 2020] issued the following joint statement on the new White House COVID relief proposal:

“While it is progress that Leader McConnell has signed off on a $916 billion offer that is based off of the bipartisan framework, the President’s proposal must not be allowed to obstruct the bipartisan Congressional talks that are underway. Members of the House and Senate have been engaged in good-faith negotiations and continue to make progress. The bipartisan talks are the best hope for a bipartisan solution.

“The President’s proposal starts by cutting the unemployment insurance proposal being discussed by bipartisan Members of the House and Senate from $180 billion to $40 billion. That is unacceptable.”

On December 9 2020, CNBC addressed partisan differences around disseminating direct aid to Americans. The story indicated that McConnell, a Republican, sought to “keep costs down” with a “leaner” aid package, a deal many elected Democrats felt was insufficient:

As Capitol Hill lawmakers continue to work on the next round of coronavirus relief, a big question remains: Will there be a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks?

Based on one new plan, lawmakers for and against those checks could split the difference and send $600 one-time payments instead of the $1,200 sums that were sent out to millions of Americans this past spring.

The proposal, which was put forward by President Donald Trump, would include $600 payments per individual, or $1,200 per couple, plus $600 per child.

Meanwhile, other leaders including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are pushing for the sums to stay at $1,200.

“Today, 1 in 4 workers are unemployed or make less than $20,000. Congress must provide direct payments to the working class NOW! At least $1,200,” Sanders tweeted this week.

The new push for more one-time payments comes as recent proposals, notably the $908 billion bipartisan plan, have excluded stimulus checks.


Changing the amount to $600 from $1,200 would not affect how quickly the payments are processed.

On December 9 2020, Politico’s “Mnuchin pushes relief checks over jobless aid” explained that the $600 checks were part of an overall reduction in direct aid:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on [December 9 2020] defended the Trump administration’s proposal to send one-time relief checks to millions of Americans rather than pouring more money into federal unemployment benefits, calling it a better way to get aid to struggling households.


Democrats have pressed to resume enhanced federal unemployment benefits as well as a second round of one-time stimulus checks — which the government first handed out at the beginning of the pandemic — to help households weather the crisis. Jobless Americans also received $600 a week in additional federal aid, on top of the benefits that states dole out, until the end of July [2020] when the program lapsed.

A proposal that Mnuchin offered to Democrats on [December 8 2020] includes $600 one-time payments to individuals and would extend expiring unemployment benefits, but it wouldn’t add more funding for enhanced federal benefits for jobless Americans.

On December 9 2020, Rep. Ro Khanna tweeted in opposition of the $600 checks for Americans, describing it as completely insufficient:

On December 9 2020, NBC News reported that Pelosi and Schumer “blast[ed]” the proposal, explaining:

Mnuchin’s plan has some distinct differences that Democrats immediately rejected. Unlike the bipartisan proposal, it puts forth a $600 direct payment for individuals and $1,200 for couples, half the payment delivered by the March [2020] pandemic relief bill. And while the proposal would extend federal unemployment benefits, which are set to expire at the end of the month [December 2020], for up to eight weeks, it wouldn’t provide an additional enhanced weekly federal benefit of $300, which Democrats are demanding and the bipartisan group has endorsed.

To attract the support of Democratic leaders, Mnuchin’s deal would provide $160 billion for state and local aid. And it includes the Republican priority of liability protections for businesses and money for the popular Paycheck Protection Program, which aims to give small businesses incentives to keep workers on their payrolls.

But Democratic leaders immediately rejected the proposal. In a joint statement Tuesday night [December 8 2020], Schumer, D-N.Y., and Pelosi, D-Calif., said it was progress that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had endorsed the cost of the package, but they signaled that the proposal was obstructing bipartisan negotiations underway among lawmakers. The Democratic leaders also made it clear that the reduction in unemployment benefits from what’s on the table is something they could never support.

Once again, Schumer and Pelosi’s rejection of Mnuchin’s proposal was reported on the grounds that it reduced or eliminated direct aid, which dwindled from $1,200 in March 2020, to Mnuchin’s proposed $600 and the removal of enhanced unemployment benefits by December 2020.

A December 10 2020 Daily Wire post claimed Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi “[shot] down … $600 checks for Americans,” a headline that took the actual story — partisan disagreement around the amount of payments that should be made directly to Americans — wildly out of contet. In our earlier December 2020 article on purported second stimulus checks, we explained that bills rejected in September and October 2020 did not include any direct aid (in other words, those second stimulus checks), the grounds on which the packages were rejected by Democrats. Mnuchin’s compromise bill was described as “unacceptable” in a joint statement by Schumer and Pelosi — because it drastically reduced the direct aid offered to Americans, not because it included payments at all.