GOP blocks Democrats’ attempt to raise COVID-19 stimulus payments to $2,000

Democrats ask GOP for consent to up COVID-19 stimulus payments to $2,000

Dec. 24 (UPI) — House Republicans on Thursday blocked an effort by Democratic lawmakers to gain unanimous consent on a measure to raise the next stimulus payment to Americans to $2,000, as President Donald Trump pushed for this week.

During a pro forma session, Democratic lawmakers in the chamber sought universal consent to pass a standalone bill to increase the stimulus payment amount. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy denied consent and blocked the attempt.

In response, Democrats blocked a counter-proposal from McCarthy that seeks revisions to language in the attached spending bill pertaining to spending earmarked for state and foreign operations, which Trump criticized as “wasteful.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had said Democrats would try for unanimous consent for the standalone measure to raise the stimulus payment amount, which stands at $600 in the recently passed, bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill.

“Today, on Christmas Eve morning, House Republicans cruelly deprived the American people of the $2,000 that the president agreed to support,” Pelosi said in a statement after Republicans blocked the change.

Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer and other key party lawmakers have long lobbied for larger stimulus payments — while Republicans, led by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, opposed those proposals.

In a surprise move Tuesday night, Trump assailed the relief bill for including only $600 for Americans — despite the fact that Mnuchin, his primary representative during relief negotiations, never pushed for a greater amount over a period of months at the bargaining table.

Trump, however, left the White House Wednesday to spend the Christmas holiday at his luxury resort in Florida without signing either bill. Trump also did not veto the bills, which would have allowed both houses of Congress to override the veto and put them into law.

If the bills don’t become law, the government will run out of funds at midnight on Monday and there will be a federal shutdown. The bills are attached, meaning in their current form one cannot be passed without the other.

“If the president is serious about the $2,000 direct payments, he must call on House Republicans to end their obstruction,” Pelosi added.

“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.”

Pelosi said she will seek a roll-call vote Monday on the proposal.

“I will bring the House back to session where we will hold a recorded vote on our standalone bill to increase economic impact payments to $2,000,” she said. “To vote against this bill is to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny them the relief they need.

“Hopefully by then the president will have already signed the bipartisan and bicameral legislation to keep government open and to deliver coronavirus relief.”

Some analysts have said Trump’s decision to do nothing is merely an effort to blow up the relief effort, possibly motivated by politics and frustration at having lost the presidential election.

McCarthy was one of more than 100 House Republicans who signed on to a baseless lawsuit in the Supreme Court earlier this month to try and overturn Trump’s election loss to President-elect Joe Biden.
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