(CBS Local) — Despite a Democratic-approved demand by President Trump for Congress to provide direct checks of $2,000 to Americans, Republicans on Thursday blocked such an effort by shooting down the updated coronavirus relief bill.
“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,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Thursday morning. “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.”
Mr. Trump traveled to his Mar-a-Lago golf club in Florida on Wednesday evening, where he is expected to remain through the Christmas holiday. Pelosi said that she hoped Mr. Trump would sign the current relief bill passed by Congress this week to avert a government shutdown and provide badly needed support to suffering Americans.
President Trump railed against the initial deal Tuesday night that would have given individuals a $600 check, or $1,200 per couple. In a video tweeted from his account, the President attacked the bill suggesting he would not sign it while urging lawmakers to increase the amount of the direct payments to individuals included within.
“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 dollars to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple,” Trump said in the recorded message.
Democrats swiftly joined the President’s call saying that they would be more than willing to increase the size of the checks being paid out. Pelosi immediately retweeted Trump’s video, adding that, “Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks. At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!”
Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks. At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it! https://t.co/Th4sztrpLV
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) December 23, 2020
The Speaker was far from the only Democrat in favor as Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts senator Ed Markey both chimed in saying they are in favor of $2,000 stimulus checks as well.
Let’s give Americans $2,000. https://t.co/xwGsXkmAfM
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) December 23, 2020
Speaker Pelosi said Wednesday morning that the House would be introducing the new bill with the $2,000 stimulus checks on Thursday and they would attempt to pass it via unanimous consent since representatives won’t be on the floor to vote. Along with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, Pelosi called on the President to pass the current version of the bill before then urging Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to support the unanimous consent request for $2,000 payments.
Mr. President, sign the bill to keep government open! Urge McConnell and McCarthy to agree with the Democratic unanimous consent request for $2,000 direct payments! This can be done by noon on Christmas Eve!
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) December 23, 2020
We spent months trying to secure $2000 checks but Republicans blocked it
Trump needs to sign the bill to help people and keep the government open and we’re glad to pass more aid Americans need
Maybe Trump can finally make himself useful and get Republicans not to block it again
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) December 23, 2020
The stimulus package passed earlier in the week includes some similar measures to those passed with the CARES Act back in March, albeit in different amounts. The direct payments — included are for $600 instead of $1,200 — will go out to every adult with an annual salary up to $75,000. Adults earning between $75,000 and $100,000 per year could receive a reduced payment. Parents will also be paid $600 for each dependent child, rather than the $500 issued under the CARES Act.
In addition to the direct payments, the bill includes extended unemployment benefits, more money for the Paycheck Protection Program, help for theaters and other live venues and money for vaccine distribution. It was coupled with the omnibus spending bill that extends funding for the government, which is only currently funded through December 28, through September of next year. That coupling is the reason that Democrats have come out urging the president to sign the current bill before then introducing new legislation that would provide bigger direct payments.
As CBS News pointed out, it’s unclear how serious the president is about his threat not to sign the bill. There is also the additional hurdle of getting a new bill with larger stimulus checks passed in the Senate. Majority leader McConnell has not weighed in on the president’s remarks as of Wednesday morning.
The passing of new legislation would be made more difficult by the fact that much of Congress has already returned home for Christmas and both chambers aren’t set to return until January 3 of 2021.