4Star Politics: Facing scrutiny and threats, lawmakers close in on a third stimulus package

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The debate continues on Capitol Hill as the Senate debates its next COVID-19 relief bill.

Former Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder and Bryan Lowry, the Kansas City Star’s Washington Correspondent, join FOX4’s John Holt and Kansas City Star Editorial Board member Dave Helling on the latest episode of “4Star Politics”

With all eyes on Washington, D.C., everyone wants to know when lawmakers will sign its next relief bill.

President Joe Biden and Democrats agreed to tighten eligibility limits for stimulus checks Wednesday, bowing to party moderates as leaders prepared to move their $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill through the Senate.

At the same time, the White House and top Democrats stood by progressives and agreed that the Senate package would retain the $400 weekly emergency unemployment benefits included in the House-passed pandemic legislation. Moderates have wanted to trim those payments to $300 after Republicans have called the bill so heedlessly generous that it would prompt some people to not return to work.

Yoder said that the bill will need to head back to the House, but that it will pass. He also speculated that a bill signing could happen as soon as March 12, just two days before unemployment insurance expires.

“There’s a little bit of division right now between some of the more moderate democrat senators and more liberal about some of the provisions. How many people will get the checks? What income level? Those sorts of things are being debated but, you know the senate is a narrow 50-50 senate, the vice president will have to break the tie,” Yoder said. “There doesn’t appear to be much bipartisanship going in on this vote, so it looks like it’ll be a solid democratic vote, which means one democratic senator has the veto power over this.”

Lowry agrees that millions of Americas will see money coming to their bank accounts, but he points out not everyone will be happy about the final bill.

“There will certainly be some heartburn from house progressives over things like the minimum wage increase are likely coming out in the Senate and maybe some of the formula’s changing a little bit, Lowery said. “Democrats want to get this bill to Joe Biden’s desk.”

Lawmakers are also paying attention to the FBI director’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the state of politics on Capitol Hill. The House canceled it’s session Thursday amid credible threats.

An indictment was unsealed Wednesday involving a man who threatened Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver. Lowry spoke to Cleaver moments later.

“Congressman Cleaver was unaware of the threat the day it was made. He found out about it from Congressman Kohen and was alerted by the FBI about it with the arrest today,” Lowry said. “What he told me was the FBI is taking all of these matters very seriously given what happened on the sixth. He’s very appreciative of Director Ray for making sure that threats to lawmakers are taken seriously.”

Yoder believes things are getting worse, not better.

“It’s gotten very toxic, very negative, long before even the era of Donald Trump. We’ve been in the era that whether it’s social media or 24-hour cable news cycle, just folks general attitude and anger level in politics seems like it rises every year,” Yoder said. “You never know who’s actually going to take that threat and turn it into an actual action.”

Watch this week’s full episode of 4Star Politics in the above video player.

FOX4 and The Kansas City Star are partnering to bring you 4Star Politics, a special digital venture with new episodes released Wednesdays at 5 p.m.

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