House Republicans block $2,000 COVID relief payments for Americans

President Trump blasted bipartisan deal that only gave individuals $600.

Posted: Dec 24, 2020 8:51 AM
Updated: Dec 24, 2020 1:09 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s sudden demand for $2,000 checks for most Americans was swiftly rejected by House Republicans on Thursday as his haphazard actions throw a massive COVID relief and government funding bill into chaos.

The rare Christmas Eve session of the House lasted just minutes, with help for millions of Americans awaiting Trump's signature on the bill. Unemployment benefits, eviction protections and other emergency aid, including smaller $600 checks, are at risk. Trump’s refusal of the $900 billion package, which is linked to $1.4 trillion government funds bill, could spark a federal shutdown at midnight Monday.

“We’re not going to let the government shut down, nor are we going to let the American people down,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the majority leader.

The optics appear terrible for Republicans, and the outgoing president, as the nation suffers through the worst holiday season many can remember. Families are isolated under COVID precautions and millions of American households are devastated without adequate income, food or shelter. The virus death toll of 320,000 is rising.

Trump is ending his presidency much the way he started it — sowing confusion and reversing promises all while contesting the election and courting a federal shutdown over demands his own party in Congress will not meet.

The congressional Republican leaders have been left almost speechless by Trump’s year-end scorching of their work.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy helped negotiate the year-end deal, a prized bipartisan compromise, that won sweeping approval this week in the House and Senate after the White House assured GOP leaders that Trump supported it.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin boasted that the $600 checks all sides had agreed to for Americans would be in the mail in a week.

Instead, Washington is now hurling toward a crisis with COVID aid about to collapse, as the president is at his Mar-a-Lago club. He has been lashing out at GOP leaders for refusing to join his efforts to overturn the election that Joe Biden won when the Electoral College votes are tallied in Congress on Jan. 6.

"The best way out of this is for the president to sign the bill,” Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said Thursday. “And I still hope that’s what he decides.”

Racing to salvage the year-end legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Mnuchin are in talks on options.

Democrats will recall House lawmakers to Washington for a vote Monday on Trump’s proposal, with a roll call that would put all members on record as supporting or rejecting the $2,000 checks. They are also considering a Monday vote on a stop-gap measure to at least avert a federal shutdown. It would keep the government running until Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20. Lawmakers will also be asked to override Trump's veto of a must-pass Defense bill.

After presiding over the short House session, an exasperated Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., decried the possibility that the COVID assistance may collapse.

“It is Christmas Eve, but it is not a silent night. All is not calm. For too many, nothing is bright," she said on Capitol Hill.

A town hall she hosted the night before "had people crying, people terrified of what is going to happen,” she said. One father recently told her he had to tell his children there would be no Santa Claus this year.

The president’s push to increase direct payments for most Americans from $600 to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples drives support from Democrats but splits the GOP with a politically difficult test of their loyalty to the president.

Republican lawmakers traditionally balk at the big spending, never fully embracing Trump’s populist approach. Many have opposed larger $2,000 checks as too costly and poorly targeted.

On a conference call Wednesday House Republican lawmakers complained that Trump threw them under the bus, according to one Republican on the private call and granted anonymity to discuss it. Most had voted for the package and they urged GOP leaders to hit the cable news shows to explain its benefits, the person said.

Yet the president has found common ground with Democrats, particularly leading liberals who support the $2,000 payments as the best way to help struggling Americans. Democrats only settled for the lower number to compromise with Republicans.

Even if the House is able to approve Trump's $2,000 checks on Monday, that measure would likely die in the GOP-controlled Senate, which is due back in session on Tuesday.

The president's unpredictable demands are creating more Trump-related headaches for Georgia GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who are fighting for their political lives — and for continued GOP control of the Senate — in a pair of Jan. 5 Georgia run-off elections. They are being forced to choose whether to back or buck Trump, potentially angering voters on all sides.

The clash Thursday unfolded as the Democratic-controlled House convened for a routine pro forma session, which had been scheduled before Trump’s sudden moves, when lawmakers anticipated no business being conducted.

Instead, the 12-minute House session morphed into a procedural brawl as Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, sought the unanimous approval of all House members to pass the bill with Trump’s proposal. GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who was not present in the nearly-empty chamber, refused.

House Republicans then tried, and failed, to win unanimous approval of their own proposal to revisit routine foreign aid funding, which Trump had cited as one of his key objections to the overall spending package.

The year-end package Trump railed against as a “disgrace” is the product of months of work. It would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants and theaters and money for schools. Money is included for health care providers and to help with COVID vaccine distribution. Trump took aim at foreign aid funds in the package he has agreed to in the past and asked for in his yearly budget.

The final text of the more than 5,000-page bill was still being prepared by Congress to be sent to the White House for Trump’s signature by Thursday or Friday, an aide said.

That complicates the schedule ahead. Even if Trump doesn't formally veto the package, he could allow it to expire with a “pocket veto” at the end of the year.

The Senate cleared the huge relief package Monday by a 92-6 vote after the House approved it by 359-53. Those votes totals would be enough to override a veto should Trump decide to take that step.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 604406

Reported Deaths: 7629
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1249281777
Ramsey52501896
Dakota46829470
Anoka42767458
Washington27423291
Stearns22555224
St. Louis18138313
Scott17550135
Wright16374149
Olmsted13397102
Sherburne1201695
Carver1067248
Clay826092
Rice8200110
Blue Earth762544
Crow Wing681794
Kandiyohi667985
Chisago619852
Otter Tail585884
Benton582998
Goodhue483874
Douglas475481
Mower470633
Winona461351
Itasca459463
Isanti439964
McLeod430561
Morrison424862
Beltrami407861
Nobles407650
Steele397916
Polk389072
Becker386755
Lyon363853
Carlton352856
Freeborn346933
Pine335023
Nicollet331245
Mille Lacs311954
Brown307840
Le Sueur297326
Cass286132
Todd285633
Meeker263342
Waseca238023
Martin235332
Roseau211221
Wabasha20783
Hubbard196641
Dodge18783
Renville182446
Redwood176539
Houston174616
Cottonwood167124
Wadena163323
Fillmore157410
Faribault154719
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138937
Watonwan13579
Rock128719
Jackson122612
Pipestone116726
Yellow Medicine114920
Pope11306
Murray107110
Swift106918
Koochiching95417
Stevens92411
Clearwater89016
Marshall88817
Lake83220
Wilkin83213
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5948
Lincoln5853
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48393
Red Lake4017
Traverse3775
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371050

Reported Deaths: 6051
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58259640
Linn21218339
Scott20307248
Black Hawk16139312
Woodbury15238230
Johnson1461985
Dubuque13509211
Dallas1128899
Pottawattamie11225174
Story1071448
Warren583891
Clinton561593
Cerro Gordo554093
Sioux517474
Webster515794
Muscatine4882106
Marshall486676
Des Moines467472
Wapello4338122
Buena Vista426940
Jasper421172
Plymouth403181
Lee382356
Marion366076
Jones300957
Henry294637
Bremer288461
Carroll286952
Boone268634
Crawford268440
Benton259855
Washington257251
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232651
Jackson225242
Clay216727
Kossuth216166
Tama211971
Delaware211143
Winneshiek198635
Page194522
Buchanan193833
Cedar192423
Hardin187444
Fayette186643
Wright186040
Hamilton181951
Harrison180073
Clayton171157
Butler166335
Madison164619
Mills163824
Floyd163442
Cherokee159338
Lyon158841
Poweshiek157036
Allamakee152952
Hancock150334
Iowa149824
Winnebago144531
Cass139255
Calhoun138913
Grundy137333
Emmet135841
Jefferson133435
Shelby131537
Sac130920
Union130035
Louisa129849
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124817
Franklin123523
Guthrie123332
Humboldt119626
Palo Alto113623
Howard104922
Montgomery103638
Clarke100924
Keokuk96732
Monroe96431
Unassigned9560
Ida91535
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona82931
Osceola78916
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7618
Taylor66812
Fremont6269
Decatur6169
Ringgold56424
Van Buren56418
Wayne54423
Audubon53411
Adams3444
Rochester
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 64°
Mason City
Mostly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 63°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 66°
Austin
Mostly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 66°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 64°
Sun today, but storms likely for Father's Day
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Ryan's Morning Forecast (6/20/21)

Image

Million Dollar Hole-In-One shootout begins Saturday

Image

Juneteenth Jubilee

Image

Hayfield baseball team wins state

Image

Flavor Fest

Image

Ryan's 6 PM Weather

Image

Ryan's Evening Forecast (6/19/21)

Image

Organizers put finishing touches on Rochesterfest preparations

Image

Med City leaders consider adding security cameras downtown

Image

City Council weighs adding more camera downtown

Community Events