During a Thursday morning pro forma session of Congress, House Democrats attempted to pass a bill by unanimous consent to increase the direct stimulus payment to Americans from $600 to $2,000 following a request by President Donald Trump. Despite support from President Trump, Republicans member of the House stopped the motion.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., offered the proposal from the House floor, but was blocked because the measure was not approved by House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
Democrats vowed their effort isn’t over, promising to move to pass a bill to increase the stimulus checks to $2,000 with a full up-or-down vote on the House floor on December 28.
“Today, on Christmas Eve morning, House Republicans cruelly deprived the American people of the $2,000 that the President agreed to support. If the President is serious about the $2,000 direct payments, he must call on House Republicans to end their obstruction,” Speaker of the US House of Representative Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “House and Senate Democrats have repeatedly fought for bigger checks for the American people, which House and Senate Republicans have repeatedly rejected – first, during our negotiations when they said that they would not go above $600 and now, with this act of callousness on the Floor.
Congress is poised to meet again on Monday, December 28 to override President Trump’s veto of a bipartisan defense bill.
“The NDAA has become law every year for 59 years straight because it’s absolutely vital to our national security and our troops,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, a Republican, said. “This year must not be an exception.”
With Democrats and Republicans agreeing to override Trump’s veto on the defense bill, they will meet in Congress again next week at which point Pelosi said she will also call for a full vote on the stimulus payment increase proposal.
“On Monday, I will bring the House back to session where we will hold a recorded vote on our stand-alone bill to increase economic impact payments to $2,000,” said Pelosi. “To vote against this bill is to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny them the relief they need.”
While Democrats attempted to get approval for a stimulus increase, House Republicans asked for a revaluation of spending for foreign aid in the omnibus spending package that funds the entire federal government through September 2021. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., attempted to get lawmakers to reconsider aspects of the spending bill related to foreign aid. That move was blocked by Democrats.
Funding for the stimulus checks is one piece of a more than $900 billion bill included in the omnibus spending package that passed both the House and the Senate earlier this week. During remarks in a video message Tuesday night, President Trump signaled he would not sign the bill unless Congress included $2,000 direct checks to Americans. While he condemned “wasteful” spending included in the bill as part of ongoing goring aid from the federal government, he did not provide Congress with any specifics as to how to correct it to win his signature aside from an increase in the stimulus checks.
Congress has spent the last several months negotiating the bill, which ended up being over 5,000 pages, with little input from the President. The bipartisan vote on the bill came days before 12 million people are set to lose benefits if pandemic-era provisions to expand unemployment eligibility expires, which expires the day after Christmas. In addition, millions across the country face eviction if a federal moratorium expires at the end of the year.
As of Thursday afternoon, the bill was still in the enrollment period and it had not yet been transmitted to the White House. If Trump blocks the spending package, large parts of the U.S. government could start to shut down next week for lack of funds at a time when officials are distributing two coronavirus vaccines and working to respond to a massive hacking attack. Congress is scheduled to return to Congress next week and could pass a temporary funding measure while awaiting a full vote to override President Trump’s veto to fund the government.