“We could have passed the bill four days ago, but our colleagues on the other side went against the president’s wishes and blocked it,” the Ways and Ways Committee chairman said on Monday. House Means, Richard Neal (D-Mass.).
Action now turns to the Senate, where it’s unclear whether the chamber will even pass the House’s proposal, although Trump insisted on Sunday night that he had secured an agreement from Republican leaders to do so. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) will attempt to pass the House bill by unanimous consent on Tuesday, but Republicans are expected to oppose it. Many GOP senators have already resisted higher stimulus checks.
Unless there is the cooperation of the 100 senators, it would take several days to set up a recorded vote on the proposal and it would take 60 votes. It’s a steep path to approval – and it all happens during what should be a vacation break for Congress.
But even though Democrats cannot guarantee higher payouts for the public, Trump has given them the opportunity to seize a politically popular position and divide the GOP in the process. Only 44 Republicans Houes voted for the larger checks, with 130 against.
“The President of the United States presented this as something he wants to see,” President Nancy Pelosi said ahead of the vote. “I hope this point of view will be shared by Republicans in the Senate.”
President-elect Joe Biden also weighed in on the issue on Monday, telling reporters he supported an increase in checks to $ 2,000. Trump was unusually calm on Monday, with the president’s only reported sightings occurring at his golf course in West Palm Beach.
At a press conference on Monday, Schumer said Trump had to be much more vocal in demanding Republican support if he wanted the stimulus to pass.
“These Senate Republicans have followed you through the thick and the thin,” Schumer said. “To the president: talking is not enough. Act. Call in and ask these Senate Republicans to support $ 2,000 in relief.
Signing that the bigger checks are gaining some favor among Conservatives, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) Approved the $ 2,000 payments as the House voted: “I share the concern of many of my colleagues about the long-term effects of the spending, but we cannot ignore the fact that millions of working class families across the country are still in urgent need of relief.
Still, Democrats expect many Republicans will use the increased costs as a justification for not supporting the bill. Raising direct payments to $ 2,000 would cost around $ 464 billion, up from around $ 160 billion currently, according to a congressional estimate released on Monday.
A handful of Republicans, including Ways and Means Leader Kevin Brady (R-Texas), spoke out against the bill, citing the additional spending or saying the money could be better spent elsewhere in the ‘economy.
The House was already scheduled to sit on Monday to send another Trump-related wrinkle – the president’s veto on the annual defense policy bill. The bill, which has been enacted for nearly 60 consecutive years, was passed by both houses earlier this month with a veto-proof majority. If the House and Senate succeed this week in countering Trump, it will be his presidency’s first veto.
Monday’s House stimulus vote wraps up an unusually frenzied week in Washington, a city which, even with its unpredictable political gambits, is generally quiet over the Christmas and New Years holidays.
A week ago, Congress finally broke an eight-month blockade to pass the desperately needed aid bill after days of drama and fierce negotiations. Lawmakers quickly evacuated the city only to be blinded midweek by a video Trump posted on Twitter denouncing the bill.
The ambush left Washington in limbo for several days, as the president continued to criticize the direct payment amounts negotiated by his own Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, and the levels of foreign aid requested by his own White House.
The move also started a chicken game with leaders in Congress, who refused to bring lawmakers back to Capitol Hill to respond to Trump’s demands and began to make contingency plans in the event the president allows funding for the government to expire Monday at midnight.
The House initially tried to pass the Direct Payments Boost Bill on Christmas Eve by unanimous consent, but Republicans opposed it. Over the weekend, Trump continued to complain about the relief package only to finally sign it on Sunday night after days of lobbying by some of his closest allies in Congress, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) and minority parliamentary leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
While Trump has avoided government shutdown, his delay has caused at least a temporary disruption in critical unemployment benefits for millions of struggling Americans; the programs expired on Boxing Day and were renewed in the relief program.
In addition to unemployment assistance and out-of-pocket payments, the roughly $ 900 billion measure provides for coronavirus funding for schools, small businesses and vaccine distribution.
Burgess Everett contributed to this report.