Pelosi says House to vote on bigger stimulus payments after GOP blocks increase

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that House Democrats would vote Monday on a standalone bill that would provide direct payments to Americans of $2,000 per person.

Her announcement came moments after House Republicans blocked a Democratic bid to increase the payments from the $600 per individual as passed in the stimulus bill earlier this week to the $2,000 amount.

“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. To vote against this bill is to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny them the relief they need,” Pelosi said in a statement Thursday morning.

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

The House is now adjourned until Monday afternoon, when members will also vote on overriding Trump’s veto of the annual defense authorization bill.

Thursday’s failed vote was just the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of lawmakers’ attempts to pass a massive stimulus package designed to provide economic relief amid the crippling Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic collapse.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump shredded the year-end spending and Covid-19 relief package, saying it includes too many provisions that have nothing to do with the pandemic and is too stingy with payments to average Americans. The $900 billion relief package passed by both chambers of Congress included a new round of direct payments and help for jobless Americans, families and businesses struggling in the pandemic.

But in a video Trump posted to Twitter Tuesday night, he complained that the $600 stimulus checks included in the bill were too small, arguing that qualifying individuals should receive $2,000 and couples should get $4,000.

After Trump’s comments, House Democrats rushed to schedule a vote that would increase the payments as Trump demanded. Because many members of the House are out of town, Hoyer said, leaders tried to pass the bill by unanimous consent, which meant any single member could kill it.

Its failure to advance Thursday morning throws into further doubt the future of any imminent financial relief for millions of struggling Americans.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., on Thursday blasted House Republicans for blocking the increase in direct aid to Americans and Trump for not yet signing the massing spending and relief legislation sitting on his desk. Hoyer repeatedly referenced Trump’s videotaped statement calling the $600 direct payments “insufficient,” and said that’s why “we responded this morning.” The unanimous consent request to pass the increased payments was “consistent with the president’s request,” Hoyer said.

A top Senate Republican on Thursday also urged Trump to sign the bill while adding that he did not support raising the payments.

“The best way out of this is for the president to sign the bill, and I still hope that’s what he decides to do,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the Senate Republican Policy Committee chairman, told reporters Thursday.

Asked if a bill to increase the direct payment checks from $600 to $2000 would get the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate, Blunt said, “It would not.”

Trump’s comments on Tuesday sent Washington spiraling into chaos after lawmakers spent months hashing out a deal on the largest piece of legislation in 2020 and left many frustrated that Trump waited so long to voice his concerns after largely sitting out the negotiation process.

Before Trump spoke, all signs and expectations had been that he intended to sign the relief bill as soon as it lands on his desk, possibly later this week. White House aides also said as much.

House Democrats, who had advocated higher direct checks only to encounter Republican resistance in the Senate, immediately said they welcomed Trump’s support for sending out more money.

The legislation already passed by Congress includes two bills that were combined: One was the Covid-19 relief and stimulus bill, and the other was a large spending bill to fund the government through next September. If the spending bill is not enacted into law, the government will have to start shutting down beginning on Tuesday.

Pelosi tweeted Thursday afternoon that the bill was being sent to the president and urged him to sign it.

Earlier in the day, Hoyer said, “We’re not going to let the government shut down,” adding, “We are considering options and what steps we will take.”

After the vote on the direct payments failed, House Republicans made their own unanimous consent request to “revisit” foreign aid portion of the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending package, a move that the Democrats then blocked. Trump had railed against wasteful foreign spending in his comments earlier this week, although his own budget proposal had included the provisions he singled out for criticism.

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