Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) broke with his party's Senate leader Thursday, calling for a stand-alone vote on $2,000 stimulus checks.
"If you had a stand-alone vote on the $2,000 check, it might pass," Graham said while appearing on "Fox & Friends."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has knocked the prospect of raising the stimulus checks that are going out to many Americans from $600 to $2,000, vowing the Senate would not pass a stand-alone bill increasing the amount. President Trump has pushed for the increase and the House passed one earlier this week, but most Senate Republicans are wary.
"The Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democrats' rich friends who don't need the help," McConnell said.
McConnell has offered a competing measure that would tie an increase in the checks to removing a legal shield for tech companies and creating a commission to examine the 2020 elections. But that proposal is viewed as a non-starter for Democrats.
Graham says McConnell is correct in saying that a stand-alone vote couldn't happen by Jan. 3. However, the new Congress begins that day at noon, and the vote stands a chance there.
That would mean, however, that the House would also need to pass its own bill again, as the existing approved measure would die when the current Congress ends.
"The new Congress, you could get a vote," Graham said. "I'd like a stand-alone vote in the new Congress on the $2,000 check."
Seven Republicans already said they would vote in favor of the increased checks, and five more would need to sign on to get it passed, Graham told "Fox & Friends."
"I think if we had the vote we would get there."
Republicans have expressed concern over the $2,000 stimulus checks, arguing they would add to the federal debt and they aren't the most efficient way to get relief money to those who really need it.
"I'm with the president on this," Graham said, noting President Trump's push for the increased checks last week. "Our economy is hanging by a thread here in South Carolina."
To help win GOP favor, Graham called for a stand-alone vote on three measures: Repealing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a commission to investigate fraud in the 2020 elections and a vote on $2,000 stimulus checks.