House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pledged swift action on new legislation raising personal stimulus payments to $ 2,000, urging Republicans to join Democrats in responding to a last-minute demand by President Donald Trump which has cast doubt on a historic pandemic relief plan.
Pelosi highlighted in aletterto my colleagues on Wednesday that Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s approval will be required to proceed with a request for unanimous consent to increase payments to $ 2,000 from the $ 600 that was part of the pandemic relief package adopted Monday night by the Congress. Trump said on Tuesday that the smaller amount was not enough and he questioned whether he would sign the $ 2.3 trillion spending bill.
“If the President is serious about joining us for payments of $ 2,000, he should ask Leader McCarthy to accept our request for unanimous consent,” Pelosi said in a letter to House Democrats.
The speaker also said Trump is expected to sign the law passed Monday evening, which provides $ 900 billion in pandemic relief and $ 1.4 trillion in regular federal funding through the end of the fiscal year. Trump is expected to sign it by Dec. 28 to avoid a cut in government funding after midnight that day.
“The whole country knows there is an urgent need for the president to sign this bill, both to relieve the coronavirus and to keep the government open,” Pelosi said in his letter.
The speaker plans to convene the House in a pro-forma session on Thursday at 9 a.m. There has been no word from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – whose GOP conference had consistently demanded a smaller relief package before signing the $ 900 billion effort on Monday – on whether whether his chamber will adopt the proposal.
A McConnell spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wednesday’s economic data underscored the need for help, as Americans’ incomes fell 1.1% in November – much worse than economists had expected, and the second straight decline. Initial jobless claims exceeded 800,000 in the most recent week, more than quadruple from the end of January.
Stocks largely ignored news about the complications in Washington and the economy. The S&P 500 Index was up 0.5% at 12:13 p.m. in lighter-than-usual pre-holiday trades, ending a three-day drop.
Trump called Monday’s bill a “shame” for not doing enough for Americans in need. The charge came less than 24 hours after Congress approved the legislation with majority bipartisan votes. He also called for the elimination of “unnecessary and unnecessary articles”, but did not say whether he would veto the bill.
A single member of the House could block Pelosi bills for Thursday. She and her lieutenants would then have to decide whether they want to present it to the entire House for a recorded vote. Most members left Washington earlier this week after adopting the year-end package on Monday.
Raising payments for adults to $ 2,000 while leaving payments for children at $ 600 would cost the federal government $ 482 billion, according to estimates by Kyle Pomerleau, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute. That’s about $ 318 billion more than the $ 164 billion in payments estimated in the current package, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation calculations.
Trump’s move puts sudden pressure on Republicans in Congress, most of whom have resisted larger stimulus checks in a bid to keep the total cost of the pandemic package below $ 1 trillion. Democratic Senator Bob Casey has said that while it is good for Trump to support direct payments now, the president has been absent for months of negotiations when he should have made those demands.
“Donald Trump is going to have problems with his own party,” Casey predicted in an interview. “It’s likely that won’t happen because Republicans will vote against it – a lot of them didn’t want the $ 600. So that’s a good feeling for the president, but where has he been all these months helping Democrats do this? He was AWOL.
Two of Trump’s strongest supporters, Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Josh Hawley of Missouri, said the president’s attempt to increase payment amounts was the right move. Hawley had asked for checks for $ 1,200 before supporting Monday’s legislation.
Graham suggested that the expanded stimulus checks be paired with a separate Trump priority – repealing a law protecting social media companies from liability for most of their user-generated content.
The president has separately threatened to veto a giant annual defense spending bill, for several reasons, including the lack of provision to repeal these protections for social media companies. Republicans and Democrats argued that such a measure should be considered separately from the National Defense Authorization Act.
Trump is expected to follow through on his threat to veto the defense bill on Wednesday, otherwise it will automatically become law. Graham suggested that combining the repeal of the social media measure with the $ 2,000 checks would persuade the president to sign the two pending laws. Pelosi did not address his pitch.
“I have reason to believe that this combination will lead President Trump to support the NDAA and COVID-19 omnibus bills,” Graham tweeted Tuesday.
However, the GOP’s opposition to further deficit spending could make this idea unworkable. This then opens up the possibility of two Trump vetoes and the possibility of overriding the House and Senate in the final weeks of his presidency. Trump has vetoed several bills during his tenure, but Congress has yet to successfully overturn one.
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