Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Fate of $ 2,000 stimulus checks gathers momentum, increasing pressure on Senate Republicans

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President Donald Trump’s demand for $ 2,000 COVID-19 relief checks now falls on the Senate after the House overwhelmingly voted to respond to the president’s request to increase allowances by $ 600, but Republicans showed little interest in increasing spending.

The outcome is very uncertain as Tuesday’s session approaches. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declined to speak publicly about how he plans to deal with the issue. But Democrats, sharing a rare priority with Trump, took the opportunity to force Republicans to a tough vote to support or challenge the incumbent president.

After the bipartisan House approval, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer warned, “There is no good reason for Senate Republicans to get in the way.

“These $ 2,000 emergency checks have strong support across the country,” Schumer said in a statement Monday night. He called on McConnell to ensure the Senate helps “meet the needs of American workers and families who ask for help.”

The House count was an astonishing turn of events. Just days ago, Republicans blocked Trump’s sudden requests for larger checks in a brief Christmas Eve session as he defiantly refused to sign the broader Bill on the Bank. COVID-19 assistance and year-end funding.

As Trump spent days ranting from his private club in Florida, where he vacationed, dozens of Republicans calculated it was better to bond with Democrats to increase the pandemic allowance rather than overthrow the pandemic. incumbent president and voters counting on money. Democrats led the move, 275-134, but 44 Republicans joined nearly all Democrats in approval.

Senators were due to return to session on Tuesday amid similar and marked GOP divisions between those who align with Trump’s populist instincts and those who adhere to what had been more traditional Conservative views against government spending. Congress had opted for smaller payments of $ 600 in a compromise on the big year-end relief bill that Trump reluctantly signed into law.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “Republicans have a choice: vote for this bill or vote to deny the American people the biggest paychecks they need.

The showdown could end up becoming more of a symbol than substance if Trump’s effort dies in the Senate.

Legislative action during the rare holiday week session can do little to change the more than $ 2 trillion COVID-19 relief and federal spending program that Trump signed on Sunday, one of the most big bills like this bringing relief to millions of Americans.

Fund the government

This package – $ 900 billion in COVID-19 aid and $ 1.4 trillion to fund government agencies – will provide long-sought liquidity to businesses and individuals and avoid a federal government shutdown that would otherwise have started on Tuesday, in the midst of the public health crisis.

But the result will define Trump’s GOP, highlighting the run-off ballot in Georgia on Jan.5, where two Republican senators are in their political life fights against Democrats in a pair of races that will determine which party will control the Senate. next year.

With votes Monday and Tuesday to override Trump’s veto on a sweeping defense bill, it’s potentially a final showdown between the president and the Republican Party he leads as he imposes new demands and contests the results of the presidential election. The new Congress is due to be sworn in on Sunday.

Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the Republican rank on the Ways and Means Committee, acknowledged the division and said Congress has already approved significant funds during the COVID-19 crisis. “Nothing in this bill is helping anyone get back to work,” he said.

In addition to direct checks of $ 600 to most Americans, the COVID-19 part of the bill revives a weekly increase in unemployment benefits in the event of a pandemic – this time $ 300, until March 14 – as well as a Popular business grant paycheck protection program to keep workers on payroll. It extends protections against evictions, adding a new rent assistance fund.

The COVID-19 package builds on and builds on an earlier Washington effort. It offers billions of dollars for the purchase and distribution of vaccines, for viral contact tracing, public health departments, schools, universities, farmers, pantry programs and other institutions and groups facing difficulties in the pandemic.

Who is eligible for stimulus checks?

Americans earning up to $ 75,000 will be eligible for direct payments of $ 600, which are phased out at higher income levels, and there is an additional payment of $ 600 per dependent child.

Meanwhile, the government funding portion of the bill allows federal agencies to operate across the country without dramatic changes until September 30.
President-elect Joe Biden told reporters at an event in Wilmington, Delaware, that he supports checks for $ 2,000.

Trump’s sudden decision to sign the bill came as he faced mounting criticism from lawmakers on all sides over his eleventh hour demands. The bipartisan bill negotiated by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had already been passed by the House and Senate by wide margins. Lawmakers believed they had Trump’s blessing after months of negotiations with his administration.

The president’s provocative refusal to act, publicized by a passionate video he tweeted just before the Christmas break, sparked chaos, a disruption of unemployment benefits for millions of people and the threat of a shutdown of the government in the pandemic. It was another crisis of his own, resolved when he finally signed the bill into law.

In his statement about the signing, Trump reiterated his frustrations with the COVID-19 relief bill for only providing $ 600 in checks to most Americans and complained that ‘he saw it as unnecessary spending, especially on foreign aid – much of it coming from his own budget.

While the president has insisted he will send Congress “a drafted version” with the expenses he wants to cut, these are just suggestions to Congress. Democrats have said they will resist such cuts.

For now, the administration can only start sending the payments of $ 600.

Most Republicans in the House simply ignored pressure from Trump, with 130 of them voting to reject the higher checks that would result in additional costs of $ 467 billion. 20 other House Republicans – including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, a Trump confidant – skipped the vote, despite pandemic procedures that allow lawmakers to vote by proxy to avoid going to Capitol Hill. McCarthy was recovering at home from elbow surgery, his office said.

A day after signing, Trump was back on the golf course in Florida, the state he is expected to move to after Biden was sworn in on Jan.20.

More to read absolutely financial cover of Fortune:


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