Payne's remark implying that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is the sole obstacle to checks is simply preposterous.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) told the Associated Press that Republicans in the Senate would not approve of a new round of checks:
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat, indicated that excluding the checks while assuring small-business aid and renters’ assistance was the only way to reach agreement with Republicans who are putting firm limits on the bill’s final price tag.
“The $1,200 check, it cost we believe nationally $300 billion to give you an idea,” he said. “The Democrats have always wanted a larger number, but we were told we couldn’t get anything through the Republicans, except this $900 billion level.”
The plan being worked on by a group of Republican and Democratic senators is less than half of the Democrats’ push of $2.2 trillion and nearly double the $500 billion “targeted” package proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., agreed that a new round of direct checks “may be a go” at some point. “This is not a stimulus bill, it’s a relief bill,” he said. “And it’s something for the next three to four months to help those in greatest need.”
Both he and Durbin said that McConnell has shown interest in the bipartisan effort, and Cassidy said he was hopeful that President Donald Trump would embrace it as well.
Furthermore, as Forbes notes, Pelosi has supported plans with checks for months and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other Republicans are the ones opposing them:
In a surprise move, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was open to the $908 billion package, saying it “should be used as the basis” for negotiations moving forward, despite her having argued firmly for a multi-trillion-dollar package for months. It also marks the first time Pelosi voiced support for a bill that didn't include stimulus checks.
That means both Republican and Democratic leaders appear to be poised to back a package without checks—a notable shift considering both Pelosi and President Trump supported another round of checks while negotiating before the election.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has taken over for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin as the chief negotiator in the talks, is still vying for a smaller bill without direct payments. The White House reaffirmed Thursday it is backing McConnell's plan. And if any bill is going to pass this year, it'll need McConnell's approval.
One reason stimulus checks are on the chopping block? Time is running out. Congress has until Dec. 11 to pass a spending bill to fund the government, and analysts and economists argue passing a “bridge” stimulus bill will be essential to helping the unemployed and small businesses survive until a vaccine can be widely distributed next year. Simply put: Democratic leaders so far appear willing to sacrifice some spending items in order to get more fiscally-conservative Senate Republicans on board and pass something this month.