House Republicans blocked a Democratic attempt Thursday to send $ 2,000 direct payments to Americans as the fate of the massive coronavirus aid package passed earlier this week is pending.
Democrats sought to increase checks after President Donald Trump threatened to oppose the $ 2 trillion pandemic aid and federal funding bill because it contained only $ 600 in direct payments instead of $ 2,000.
Congress passed the proposal on Monday after Trump played no role in weeks of talks. The plan provided for coronavirus aid worth $ 900 billion.
To limit the cost of the plan, most of the Republican Party asked Trump to pay direct payments of $ 600 instead of the $ 1,200 passed in March’s CARES Act. In criticizing the end-of-year legislation, Trump also pointed to the foreign aid spending that Washington includes in its financial bills each year.
The House attempted to remit the $ 2,000 in payments during a pro forma meeting on Christmas Eve, a short session of the Chamber that typically few members attend. Democrats wanted to unanimously approve the measure, which means any lawmaker can block it.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Offered the proposal from the floor of the House, but was blocked because the move was not approved by the Chairman of the Minority House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
Subsequently, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., Tried to get lawmakers to reconsider aspects of foreign aid spending accounting. This move was blocked by the Democrats.
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi said in a statement after her party’s move failed, she would hold a full vote on Monday on the $ 2,000 payment proposal.
“If the president takes the $ 2,000 direct payments seriously, he must urge the Republicans in the House to end their disability,” Pelosi said.
The Democrats have urged Trump to sign the coronavirus facilitation and state funding law and support the separate cash payment plan.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and McCarthy, the two leading Republicans in Congress, and their aides have remained silent about Trump’s request for larger checks.
But McCarthy, in a letter to Republicans late Wednesday, described a counter-attack his party would be planning Thursday to seek changes to the foreign aid component of the spending bill.
It’s unclear who would be eligible for $ 2,000 in payments under the Democrats’ plan. Individuals earning up to $ 75,000 and couples who submit together and earn up to $ 150,000 will receive the full $ 600. In addition, the measure would pay $ 600 for each dependent child. Trump did not address the payments to children.
If Trump rejects the legislation, Congress may have enough support to override its action. Depending on how soon the 5,000-page bill arrives at his desk after formally enrolling, he could let it die by refusing to sign it before the new Congressional session begins on January 3 at 12:00 PM ET.
Along with the direct payments, the bailout package would add a weekly unemployment allowance of $ 300, expand unemployment benefits expansion provisions and a federal eviction moratorium, provide $ 284 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans, and more than $ 8 billion provide provisions for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, among other things. If Trump doesn’t sign the legislation in the coming days, about 12 million people would lose unemployment benefits on Saturday – the day after Christmas – and the government would close on Tuesday.
Many economists and Democrats have called the $ 900 billion aid plan inadequate after months of stalemate on Capitol Hill.
Democrats have announced that they will push for another bailout bill after President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20. Biden has announced that he will present his own plan to lawmakers early next year and push for a third round of direct payments.
Democrats have cited more direct payments and state and local government aid as a top priority.
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment on Thursday.
– Reuters contributed to this report.
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