Republicans on Thursday shut down an effort by Democratic leadership in the House to add $2,000 payments to the latest stimulus package, breaking with President Donald Trump’s demand for such checks, the Associated Press reports. House Democrats tried to push the measure by “unanimous consent,” but the bid was blocked by GOP leadership.
The president threatened to scuttle the $900 billion legislation in a video he released late Tuesday, if Congress did not meet his demand for larger stimulus checks. Democrats had been pushing for larger payments, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed enthusiasm for Trump’s proposal. “House Republicans cruelly deprived the American people of the $2,000 that the President agreed to support,” Pelosi said in a statement, calling on the president to “end their obstruction.” Republicans are opposed, favoring $600 payments, down from the $1,200 payments issued in an earlier round of COVID-19 relief this year.
Also on Thursday, House Republicans attempted to pass a request to reevaluate foreign aid in a related omnibus bill to fund the government, an effort House Democrats shot down, the Washington Post reports. Foreign aid was another aspect of the bill that Trump railed against in his Tuesday announcement.
Trump’s threat not to sign the stimulus bill has plunged the government into chaos. Trump was still deciding whether he should veto the relief measure as of Wednesday evening, according to the Post. In that scenario, Congress may be able to muster enough votes to override a veto, but Trump has the option of a rare “pocket veto”: sit on the measure until the 116th Congress is adjourned, letting the bill die. Unless legislation is passed soon, millions of Americans will be left without urgently needed aid such as unemployment insurance. Meanwhile, the federal government is only temporarily funded through Tuesday and since the stimulus bill was tacked onto an end-of-year omnibus spending package, Trump’s refusal to budge could trigger a government shutdown.