Democratic candidates for Senate Jon Ossoff (L) and Raphael Warnock (R) bump elbows on stage during a rally with US President-elect Joe Biden outside Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 4, 2021.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
The U.S. Senate runoff races in Georgia currently point to a victory for Democrats.
That could also mean a win for one issue that has become more prominent in recent days — $2,000 stimulus checks.
The higher one-time payments were first suggested by President Donald Trump as Congress wrapped up negotiations for the latest $900 billion coronavirus stimulus package last month.
Despite Trump’s push, the final legislation included second payments of $600 per person.
The idea of the $2,000 checks was a big issue in the Georgia races.
All four candidates in those contests endorsed the larger payments: Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock who ran against incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, and Democrat Jon Ossoff who faced off against Republican Sen. David Perdue.
Warnock won the race, according to NBC News projections.
Ossoff is in the lead, though the race is still too close to call.
If both Democrats win, that would give the party a majority in the Senate.
That could also open up the possibility for the $2,000 checks, which had been met with Republican opposition in that chamber.
“One of the first things that I want to do when our new senators are seated is deliver the $2,000 checks to the American families,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said at a news conference on Wednesday.
Though the results of the Georgia elections are not yet official, Schumer announced that he plans to assume the role of majority leader of the Senate.
Current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., previously refused to bring a bill passed by the House authorizing $2,000 checks up for a vote. Instead, he advocated for another bill that would tie the payments in with two other unrelated issues endorsed by Trump.
At a campaign event in Atlanta this week, President-elect Joe Biden said the outcome of the Georgia races would determine the fate of the $2,000 checks.
“If you send Jon [Ossoff] and the reverend [Raphael Warnock] to Washington, those $2,000 checks will go out the door, restoring hope and decency for so many people who are struggling right now,” Biden said.
“If you send senators [David] Perdue and [Kelly] Loeffler back to Washington, those checks will never get there,” he said.
Biden is expected to push for more stimulus aid once he is sworn in on Jan. 20. That will likely include the higher payments.
“My guess is that it will be part of any kind of a stimulus package that he and the vice president-elect put together,” said Bill Hoagland, senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center.