The House agreed Monday to increase the second round of government direct payments to $2,000, as Democrats backed President Donald Trump’s call for expanded economic opportunities for Americans.
The law would raise the stimulus checks included in the year-end coronavirus relief and government finance package from $600 to $2,000. The vote comes only one day after Trump signed into law a bill combining more than $2 trillion in epidemic relief and full-year federal spending.
The reimbursements were authorized by the House under a fast-track procedure, with just enough support to obtain the requisite two-thirds majority. The bill was approved by the chamber by a vote of 275 to 134.
Democrats largely supported the bill, voting 231-2 in favor. After days of Republican Trump’s pleas to raise the payouts to $2,000, 44 Republican lawmakers voted in favor of the measure, while 130 voted against it.
Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the Senate will vote on the House-passed measure. In a Sunday statement complimenting Trump’s plan to pass year-end legislation, McConnell made no mention of larger payments.
Senator Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said on Monday that he will pursue approval of the measure on Tuesday.
“Every Senate Democrat supports this essential increase in emergency financial assistance, which can be approved tomorrow if no Republican votes against it – there’s no reason for Senate Republicans to reject it,” he added in a statement.
Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Monday that the Senate’s intentions to override Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act this week will be postponed until the chamber votes on the bigger checks.
“Let me be clear: If Senator McConnell does not agree to a yes or no vote on providing a $2,000 direct payment to our country’s working people, Congress will not convene on New Year’s Eve.” “Let us get on with our work,” he said in a statement.
Last Thursday, the president called the relief and reauthorization measures passed by Congress a “disgrace.” After receiving the package from Congress, he delayed signing it for many days. Trump said he was opposed to the package, which was crafted with the help of his Treasury secretary and included many of his White House’s budget priorities because it provided little direct cash for Americans and provided an excessive amount of foreign aid.
When asked if the $600 payments will still begin this week, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin previously said, a senior Treasury official stated that the administration expects the payments to be made within the period he specified. If Congress authorizes the $2,000 checks, the agency will add them to the funds already distributed.
Trump emphasized in a statement issued on Sunday to defend his decision to sign the bill that the House and maybe the Senate might act to sanction bigger cash payments. The majority of Republicans in the GOP-controlled Senate, on the other hand, have voted against even a $1,200 check.
Trump’s plan ends an eight-month-long tale in Washington of seeking to supply another batch of coronavirus treatment. Americans had to wait months for further help when the financial lifelines that had kept them going during the early months of the epidemic ran out over the summer.
Due to the temporary expiration of two vital aid programs as a result of Trump’s inability to sign the year-end agreement, millions of unemployed Americans may lose a week of unemployment benefits.
The president’s signature prevented a government shutdown that was set to begin on Tuesday. Furthermore, any delays would have jeopardized a federal eviction moratorium, which the bill extends by a month until Jan. 31.
Democrats have framed the aid package as a down payment on future assistance, and they want to argue for more once Vice President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20. They jumped on the president’s support for $2,000 installments since they had pressed for bigger direct payments during the aid discussions.
Biden also told reporters on Monday that he is in favor of $2,000 payments.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has asked Trump to put more pressure on his party to approve the checks.
“Rejecting this would be rejecting people’s economic sufferings and, once again, denying them the support they deserve,” she said before the House vote on Monday.
At least one Republican senator, Marco Rubio of Florida, has expressed support for the larger compensation.
“While I share many of my colleagues’ worries about the long-term repercussions of additional spending,” he said in a statement Monday, “we cannot ignore the fact that millions of working-class families across the country remain in critical need of help.”
House Democrats sought to implement $2,000 rewards by unanimous consent during a pro forma session on Thursday. The vote, however, failed because House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., would not endorse it.
Earlier this month, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., overwhelmingly defeated two attempts in the Senate to pass $1,200 direct payments. Sanders and Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley also pushed for the checks to be included in the bailout plan.
Schumer’s move to put pressure on Senate Republicans comes as two Republican incumbents, Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, face-up in Georgia runoff elections on Jan. 5 that will determine Senate control and affect Biden’s agenda. Democrats have made pandemic relief a centerpiece of their campaign.
The $600 payouts are part of the legislation’s $900 billion pandemic relief measure, which also includes a $300 weekly federal unemployment insurance supplement through mid-March. It extends the number of weeks covered by insurance and expands programs that give benefits to freelance, gig, and self-employed workers.
The law spends an additional $300 billion in small business assistance, mostly through forgiving Paycheck Protection Program debts. It creates a $25 billion rental assistance fund.
It includes more than $8 billion for the Covid-19 vaccine distribution and $20 billion to make vaccines available to all Americans. It also provides $82 billion in education to help failing schools reopen, and $45 billion in transportation, including airline payroll support.
The aid package excludes state and local government assistance, which Democrats and a substantial number of Republicans favor as a means of avoiding layoffs. Republican leaders, on the other hand, have been hesitant to provide assistance until a barrier against coronavirus-related litigation is established.
Following Biden’s election, Democrats want to pursue state and municipal support, as well as another round of direct payments.