Pressure is mounting on the Republican Senate to follow the House, which on Monday overwhelmingly voted to comply with the president’s demand to increase the $ 600 checks as the virus crisis worsens. A growing number of Republicans, including two senators in the January 5 election in Georgia, said they would support the larger amount. But most GOP senators have opposed more spending, even though they are wary of Trump.
The outcome is highly uncertain on the rare holiday week session.
“We must not adjourn until the Senate has a vote,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said when he made a motion to push it to a vote.
McConnell, who said little in public at Trump’s request, objected to it, but gave almost no indication of his plans ahead.
“The Senate will begin a process,” the IDP leader said. He said he intends to “focus” on the president’s demand for the $ 2,000 check and other outstanding issues.
The showdown threw Congress into a chaotic year-end session a few days before new lawmakers would swear office in the new year. It prevents action against another priority – to block Trump’s veto of a comprehensive 60-year-old defense bill.
The president’s last minute for bigger checks divides Republicans deeply, divided between those who agree with Trump’s populist instincts and those who stick to what were more traditional conservative views on government spending. Congress decided on smaller $ 600 payments in a compromise over the big year-end bill that Trump reluctantly signed.
Liberal senators led by Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who supports relief aid, are blocking action on the defense bill until a vote on Trump’s $ 2,000 demand for most Americans.
Georgia’s two GOP senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, announced on Tuesday that they support Trump’s plan for bigger checks, as they face Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in run-off elections that will determine which party controls the Senate. .
“I’m delighted to support the president,” Perdue told Fox News. Loeffler said in an interview on Fox that she also supports the increased lighting tests.
Trump tweeted his demands before Tuesday’s Senate session: “$ 2000 for our great people, not $ 600!”
The House vote late Monday was an incredible turnaround. Just a few days ago, during a brief Christmas session, Republicans blocked Trump’s sudden demand for bigger checks because he defiantly refused to sign the broader COVID-19 bill on aid and funding for the year-end.
While Trump spent days at his private club in Florida, where he spends the holidays, dozens of Republicans have calculated that it would be better to liaise with Democrats to increase pandemic payments, rather than leaving the outgoing president and voters on the money to reckon. Democrats lead through, 275-134, but 44 Republicans approved nearly all Democrats.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “Republicans have a choice: vote for this legislation or vote to deny the American people the greater salaries they need.”
The showdown could end up as a bigger symbol than substance if Trump’s effort is entangled in the Senate and may do little to change the COVID-19 relief and federal spending package signed by Trump on Sunday.
The package – $ 900 billion in COVID-19 aid and $ 1.4 billion to fund government agencies – will provide long-sought-after cash to businesses and individuals and avert a federal strike that would otherwise begin on Tuesday.
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Along with votes this week to dominate Trump’s veto of a comprehensive defense bill, it is likely to be a final confrontation between the president and the Republican Party that he leads as he makes new demands and disputes the outcome of the presidential election. The new congress will be sworn in on Sunday.
Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, acknowledged the split, saying Congress had already approved sufficient funds during the COVID-19 crisis. “Nothing in this bill helps anyone get back to work,” he said.
Aside from the $ 600 direct checks for most Americans, the COVID-19 portion of the bill revives a weekly pandemic unemployment benefit increase – this time $ 300 through March 14 – as well as the popular Paycheck Protection Program of Grants enterprises to keep workers payroll. It expands eviction protections and adds a new fund for rental assistance.
Americans earning up to $ 75,000 qualify for the direct $ 600 payments, which are phased out at higher income levels, and there is an additional payment of $ 600 per dependent child.
Elected President Joe Biden told reporters at an event in Wilmington, Delaware that he supported the $ 2000 checks.
Trump’s sudden decision to sign the bill came as he received increasing criticism from lawmakers over his eleventh-hour demands. The dual bill negotiated by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has already surpassed the House and Senate by large margins. Lawmakers thought they had Trump’s blessing after months of negotiations with his government.
The president’s provocative refusal to act, made public by a heated video he tweeted before the Christmas holidays, sparked chaos, a decline in millions of unemployment benefits and the threat of a government strike in the pandemic . It was another crisis of his own making, which was resolved when he finally signed the bill.
In his statement on the signing, Trump reiterated his frustrations over the COVID-19 relief bill to deliver only $ 600 checks to most Americans and complained about what he considered unnecessary spending, especially on foreign aid – many of which are suggested by his own budget.
While the president has insisted that he send a new version to Congress with the spending of items he wants removed, these are only proposals to Congress. Democrats have said they will resist such cuts.
For the time being, the administration can only start sending out the $ 600 payments.
Most Republicans in the House simply took Trump’s pressure, and 130 of them voted to reject the higher checks, which would add $ 467 billion in additional costs. Another 20 House Republicans – including California minority leader Kevin McCarthy, a confidant of Trump – skipped the vote, despite pandemic procedures allowing lawmakers to vote by proxy to avoid traveling to the Capitol. McCarthy has recovered from an elbow operation at home, his office said.
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