The new UK COVID-19 strain, which is believed to be more contagious, has arrived in Colorado.
The new UK COVID-19 strain, which is called B117 and believed to be more contagious, has arrived in Colorado. ANDRIY ONUFRIYENKO / GETTY IMAGES

It's a $2,000 stimulus check showdown in the Senate: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked an immediate vote on the House-passed CASH Act, which would raise individual stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000 (here's a helpful explainer on who qualifies for the new payments). Trump demanded the $2,000 checks last week, a demand that echoed what Democrats have requested for months.

Incumbent Georgia GOP Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue announced their support for $2,000 checks earlier this morning: "I have stood by the president one hundred percent of the time. I am proud to do that. And I've said: absolutely, we need to get relief to Americans now and I will support that," Loeffler told Fox News. Perdue also came on the station this morning to announce his support for the $1,400 increase. The two, denying reason and fact, blamed the $600 payment deal on Democrats. Other Republican senators supporting the $2,000 payments include Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, and Lindsey Graham.

Let's interrupt the stimulus check news with a quick photo dump: All the best photojournalists in town are dropping their greatest hits from 2020. KUOW got a great shot of Santa in his bubble, Seattle Times captured some of the best photos of this summer's protests on June 6, and Crosscut got a very flattering photo of a horse. There's a lot more to dig through. That's just a smattering.

Even though the $2,000 checks are up in the air, the Treasury Department is sending $600 checks and direct deposits: I'm refreshing my bank account. Leave a comment when your stimmy drops.

The physical checks are expected to start mailing out tomorrow: Later this week, you can begin checking the status of your payment here.

Mkay, but what's next for that extra potential $1,400 payment? McConnell might be "thinking about linking the $2,000 check proposal to additional demands Trump has made on Congress," like changing Section 230, muses Ed Kilgore. "He can later let it come to the floor without conditions or with conditions acceptable to Democrats. Or he can effectively kill the idea by inserting it in poison pills that Trump has endorsed but that Democrats won’t accept; Republicans supporting a bigger check aren’t likely also to repudiate Trump’s additional demands." Approving the CASH Act would require 12 Republican votes on top of all the Democrats.

Mark your calendars: Under the Constitution, the opening day of the new Congress should be on January 3, which is this Sunday. Even though it's a weekend this year (in the middle of the pandemic), the House is expected to convene at noon on Sunday.

Wait, snow? It will happen (if you're in the mountains). Here are some suggestions for if things get white and blustery.

In March, lawmakers in Olympia created a Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force focused on improving Black representation in Washington's cannabis industry: Things got pretty delayed due to COVID-19, but the 18-member task force is now kicking into gear. The group is expected to deliver recommendations to the Liquor and Cannabis Board next year.

Maybe it's Hawaii that's dying: The island state's population dramatically declined this year, down an estimated 8,866 residents.

The end of an era: No more emotional support animals on Alaska Airlines starting January 11. The airline will only allow service dogs. The change follows the Transportation Department scaling back its service animal definition for aircrafts after many complaints.

Biden doubled-down on his plan to deliver 100 million vaccine doses in 100 days: To meet that goal, the country will need to "ramp" up "five to six times the current pace to 1 million shots a day," Biden said today. He also dunked on Trump's vaccine distribution: "The Trump administration’s plan to distribute vaccines is falling behind, far behind... As I long feared and warned, the effort to distribute and administer the vaccine is not progressing as it should." Biden characterized the problem as "the greatest operational challenge" the country has ever faced. We're struggling.

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If you're not tired of 2020 postmortems yet: Make sure to check out this girthy feature from the Seattle Times on how a year of protests changed Seattle.

Here we go! The Colorado State Laboratory discovered the UK coronavirus strain ("VUI – 202012/01" or B117) in a Colorado man in his 20s. State health officials said the man lives in Denver and has no travel history. The new strain is concerning because scientists believe the strain is more contagious (potentially somewhere between 56% and 70% more contagious, according to fresh studies) and could wreck COVID-19 recovery efforts. The vaccines currently being distributed are believed to be effective against the new strain. Colorado Governor Jared Polis will hold a news conference on the UK strain tomorrow. Intelligencer has a good explainer on the strain here.

Housekeeping: The Stranger is on a reduced holiday schedule again this week. We'll be back online tomorrow with a few more posts and then we're out until 2021. We'll drop something 💫💫💫 special💫💫💫 instead of Slog PM tomorrow, so this is technically the last Slog PM of 2020. I'd be sentimental about it but I hated 2020.