The U.S. House of Representatives was expected to approve an increase in stimulus payments by a majority of Americans, in a vote to add to the impact of this month’s $ 900 billion economic relief program.
The move to the lower house of Congress, which is controlled by Democrats, matches the push for more significant checks carried out in recent days by Donald Trump, the outgoing US president, who has kept the fate of the entire project. law in limbo for days. Christmas vacation until he signs it on Sunday.
If it gets the nod in the House, increasing direct payments from $ 600 per person to $ 2,000 will pressure Senate Republicans to drop their resistance to bigger checks and a stimulus package. most important.
The battle on Capitol Hill over bigger checks has significant ramifications for the world’s largest economy, as larger government payments will increase income and consumption in the first quarter of 2021.
Economists have welcomed the rest of the package to include support for small businesses and expand unemployment benefits. But larger direct payments to households will further support the recovery at a time when the winter coronavirus outbreak is hurting the labor market.
“This aid is crucial for millions of families,” Richard Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, wrote in a tweet Monday morning.
The brawl could also have big political implications, ahead of two Senate second-round races in Georgia that will determine control of the upper house of Congress during the first two years of Joe Biden’s administration. Democrats argued that if they could win back the Senate, they would be able to approve more stimulus for households and further implement Mr. Biden’s economic agenda, which includes government spending to large scale partially funded by higher taxes on business and the wealthy.
But it’s far from clear that Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader in the Senate, will concede higher direct payments, despite pressure from Democrats and the White House.
While some Republican Senators, such as Josh Hawley of Missouri and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have embraced the idea of $ 2,000 checks, others like Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania oppose it.
“I don’t agree with $ 2,000 for people who have had no loss of income, which is the vast majority of Americans, but the president is free to make that point,” Mr. Toomey on Fox News.
Mr Trump finally signed the bill to free up $ 900 billion in stimulus spending for coronaviruses and the broader federal government budget of $ 2.3 billion on Sunday night after calling it earlier in the report. week of “shame” and demand changes. In the end, no changes were made.
The tension around stimulus payments has intersected with another budget battle in Washington over the $ 740 billion annual defense financing bill, which Mr. Trump vetoed last week in another clash with members of Congress.
In a separate vote on Monday, the House was expected to vote to overturn Mr. Trump’s veto with an overwhelming majority of lawmakers. But some Republican senators, including Mr. Graham, a close ally of Mr. Trump, said he would vote in favor of the waiver only if Democrats accepted the president’s demand to repeal legislation protecting internet platforms. responsibility for online content.
The so-called “Section 230” legal shield for tech companies has become a prime target of Conservative lawmakers as well as Mr. Trump in recent months, as they have accused Silicon Valley of political bias against them in the campaign. year.