House Republicans on Thursday shot down a Democratic offer to pass President Donald Trump’s kick, end of session request for direct payments of $ 2000 to most Americans as he questions whether he should sign a long overdue COVID-19 relief bill.
The made-for-TV clash came as the Democrat-controlled chamber convened for a pro forma session scheduled in anticipation of a soft landing in Washington for the massive year-end legislative package, which bundles an expense $ 1.4 trillion government government with the hard-fought COVID-19 package and dozens of unrelated but bipartisan bills.
Instead, Thursday’s unusual 12-minute House session turned into rather unconvincing theater in response to Trump’s veto reflections on the package, which was negotiated by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on behalf of of Trump. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, called for unanimous approval from all House members to pass the bill, but GOP leader Kevin McCarthy who was not present in the almost empty room, refused his approval and the effort collapsed. .
If Trump were to follow through on his implicit veto threat, which was broadcast by music video on Tuesday, the government would likely suffer a brief partial government shutdown from December 29. It would also delay the delivery of direct payments of the $ 600 the bill contains.
The optics look terrible for Republicans, who had praised the COVID-19 relief package, which was passed by massive votes on Monday after the White House assured GOP leaders that Trump supported the plan. law.
The way forward, including efforts to avoid government shutdown or perhaps even adopt a final extension of jobless checks that would soon expire, remained unclear. Any stop would probably be brief, but nothing is certain.
“We are not going to let the government shut down, or let the American people down,” Hoyer said. “Discussions are continuing between the speaker and the Secretary of the Treasury and Administration.”
Senate Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, opposed checks over $ 2,000 because they were too expensive and poorly targeted. Democrats support direct payments and now plan to vote on the $ 2,000 check proposal on Monday.
This measure would be lobbed in the GOP-controlled Senate, where it would likely die and create more Trump-related headaches for Georgia GOP Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who are fighting for their political lives – and for continued control. of the GOP Senate – in the second round of elections in Georgia on January 5.
Rather than win the sweeping aid package, one of the largest in history, Trump lashes out at GOP leaders over the presidential election – for recognizing Joe Biden as president-elect and pushed back his campaign to challenge Electoral College results when they are. counted in Congress on January 6.
“It’s Christmas Eve, but it’s not a silent night. All is not calm. For too many, nothing is brilliant. And for far too many, they don’t sleep peacefully, ”said Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich. “I did a town hall last night where people were crying, people were terrified of what was going to happen.
Pressure from the president to increase out-of-pocket payments for most Americans from $ 600 to $ 2,000 for individuals and $ 4,000 for couples divides the party with a politically painful loyalty test.
Republican lawmakers have traditionally balked at big spending, and many have never fully embraced Trump’s populist approach. Their political DNA tells them to oppose a more expensive relief program. But now they are being asked to stand by the president.
During a conference call Wednesday, Republican House lawmakers complained that Trump threw them under the bus, according to a Republican during the private call and granted anonymity to discuss them. Most had voted for the package and they urged executives to take to cable news shows to explain its benefits, the person said.
Democrats took advantage of the Republican disarray to put pressure on a priority. Jon Ossoff, Perdue’s Democratic opponent, simply tweeted Tuesday night: “$ 2,000 in checks now.”
The relief bill that Trump criticizes would establish a temporary additional allowance of $ 300 per week for the unemployed, as well as a new round of grants for hard-hit businesses, restaurants and theaters and money for schools , health care providers and tenants threatened with eviction.
Even though Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin represented the White House in the negotiations, Trump assaulted the bipartisan effort in a video he tweeted on Tuesday night, suggesting he could not sign the legislation.
Opposing a range of provisions in the government’s broader funding program, including the foreign aid pillars included each year, Trump called the bill a “disgrace.”
Trump has not expressly vowed to use his veto, and there may be enough support in Congress to replace him if he does. But the consequences would be serious if Trump upsets the legislation. That would mean no federal help to struggling Americans and small businesses, and no additional resources to help with vaccine distribution. To top it off, because lawmakers tied the pandemic relief bill to a blanket funding measure, the government would shut down on December 29.
The final text of the 5,000-plus-page bill was still being prepared by Congress and is not expected to be sent to the White House for Trump’s signing until Thursday or Friday, an aide said.
This complicates the schedule ahead. If Trump veto the package or let it expire with a “pocket veto” at the end of the year, Americans will be forgoing huge amounts of COVID aid.
A resolution could be forced on Monday. That’s when a congressional-approved interim funding bill to keep government funding while paperwork was being compiled expires, risking a federal shutdown.
The House is expected to return already on Monday, and the Senate on Tuesday, for a vote to overturn Trump’s veto on the must-see defense bill. Democrats announced they would force a recorded vote to pass Trump’s $ 2,000 check proposal, along with a temporary government funding measure to avoid a shutdown, Hoyer said Thursday.
The push for larger payments to Americans has drawn a rare common cause between Trump and some of the more liberal members of Congress. Pelosi and the Democrats said they fought for the higher allocations during lengthy negotiations only to settle on the lower number when the Republicans refused.
The Senate cleared the huge relief package by a vote of 92-6 after the House approved it by 359-53. Those vote totals would be enough to override a veto if Trump decides to take this step.
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