Sen. Mitch McConnell Ties $2,000 COVID Checks to Section 230

U.S. Sen Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
U.S. Sen Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. (Image credit: N/A)

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled Wednesday (Dec. 30) that the Senate would not be voting on the House-passed Bill (HR 9051) providing $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks -- a figure suggested by President Trump -- essentially adding the poison pill of Section 230 repeal to any vote on such relief, something Democrats signaled they weren't going to support.

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The Senate Majority Leader basically said that if the Democrats (and some Republicans) wanted that extra money, it would need to be tied to the elimination of Big Tech's Section 230 immunity from civil liability for moderation of third-party online posts and a review of election security, which the president, in agreeing to sign the COVID-19 aid and omnibus funding bills he had issues with, said were his priorities.

The president vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act in part because it failed to include language addressing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

In his opening remarks, McConnell said he had added language to the stimulus check bill addressing those two, including eliminating Section 230, but Democrats did not want to consider it.

Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he wanted to be clear that Democrats would not support packaging the checks with Section 230 or election integrity issues. He said those were partisan issues and, besides, there would be no time to vote on a Senate version and have the House, which has recessed, vote on it before the close of this Congress. "It is a way to kill the bill," he said. 

Also Read: McConnell Says Senate Will Look at Section 230

McConnell said Democrats were hoping everyone just forgets about election integrity and Big Tech, desperate to ignore those parts of the president's request for action when he agreed to sign the bills. He said his audience could draw their own conclusions about why they did so, leaving unsaid the suggestion that Democrats did not want to delve too deeply into the integrity of the recent election or Big Tech's alleged censorship of conservative speech, which Republicans say is a problem and Democrats say is a red herring.

"Here's the deal," said McConnell, "the Senate is not going to split apart the three issues that President Trump linked together -- $2,000 checks, Section 230 and election integrity -- that President Trump linked together because Democrats are afraid to address two of them."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.