Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia signaled on Tuesday that she’s willing to vote in favor of increasing direct aid to Americans to $2,000 per person, casting it as a continuation of her steadfast support of President Donald Trump.
“I’ve stood by the president 100 percent of the time,” she said on Fox News. “I’m proud to do that, and I’ve said, absolutely, we need to get relief to Americans now, and I will support that.”
Over the weekend Trump reluctantly signed a joint coronavirus relief package and federal spending bill that includes payments of $600, but the president threw the fate of the legislation in doubt for days while complaining that the amount was insufficient.
Trump’s demands have put Republicans in a bind, forcing them to either tack on hundreds of billions of dollars to the coronavirus deal — which was held up for months in Congress over disagreements about its price tag — or buck the president and his legion of diehard devotees.
The House passed a bill on Monday to boost those payments, with more than 40 Republicans joining the Democratic majority in favor of the increase.
The freshman Republican senator’s comments come after Democrats spent months bludgeoning Loeffler and her Georgia counterpart, Sen. David Perdue, for not doing enough to pass a relief deal. Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff pushed the pair to a Jan. 5 runoff that will decide which party controls the Senate next year.
Protecting the two endangered senators — and Republicans’ grasp on the chamber — was on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s mind while the relief package was being negotiated, with him reportedly telling Senate Republicans the pair were “getting hammered” over the impasse.
Perdue on Tuesday also tweeted his support for upping the direct aid to $2,000.
“President @realDonaldTrump is right — I support this push for $2,000 in direct relief for the American people,” he posted.
Trump is scheduled to campaign with Loeffler and Perdue in Georgia on Monday as part of an all-out effort to ensure Republicans have a lever on power when President-elect Joe Biden takes office next month.
Loeffler has proudly aligned herself with Trump since being appointed to the seat by Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia a year ago, with the perfect voting record a major feature of her pitch to voters.
However, her “100 percent” line may be in jeopardy as the Senate is expected to vote by the end of the month to override Trump’s recent veto of the National Defense Authorization Act. The House voted to do so on Monday, positioning the bill to become the first successful override during Trump’s tenure.
The override vote in the Senate would force Loeffler to side with either Trump or the nation’s military. The senator was circumspect on Tuesday in answering which way she would vote on the forthcoming override, underscoring the awkward position the president put Republicans in.
“President Trump has been a huge champion for our military and rebuilding it and securing our national defense, and we’re going to continue to make sure that we support our men and women in the military,” she said. “Georgia is an incredibly important military state in this country, and I’ll always stand with our men and women in the military, and I thank President Trump for fighting for them.”
Perdue also avoided answering whether he would vote to override the president‘s veto in an interview on Fox News.
“We‘ve been working for the past three years to rebuild our military, to stand up to this China threat that we now see so vividly,“ he said. “What we can‘t do is go through a period of time that was under Obama and Biden when they cut our military 25 percent again.“
To heighten the drama of the NDAA override, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has vowed to filibuster the vote unless the Senate also takes up a vote on increasing direct-aid payments to $2,000.
The tactic has the potential to drag out the process for days, keeping Loeffler and Perdue tied up in Washington during the homestretch of their runoff campaigns.