Republicans in the House blocked a bill put forward by Democrats on Thursday that would have sent $2,000 checks to individuals as part of a coronavirus financial aid package, up from the $600 agreed to in the measure approved by Congress earlier this week that President Donald Trump criticized as too meager.
“Democrats agree with the president,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in a press conference following the vote. “$600 is not enough for individuals who have been struggling…it’s not enough to provide the boost our economy needs.”
Hoyer, a democrat from Maryland, introduced the legislation seeking unanimous consent, meaning that a single representative could block the measure. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, withheld his support, dooming the proposal.
The House of Representatives will reconvene on Monday, Dec. 28th, when Democrats plan to hold a roll-call vote on the bill that will require individual representatives to vote on the record on a standalone bill that would increase relief payments to $2,000.
Congress passed a roughly $900 billion coronavirus aid package on Monday, which included $600 in relief for taxpayers, $1,200 couples and an additional $600 for their dependents for many lower income Americans. The bill also expanded unemployment benefits, provided aid to small businesses and sent money to schools so they can safely reopen, among other measures.
On Tuesday, the president suggested he may veto the proposed legislation because the $600 relief payments are “ridiculously low” and should be increased to $2,000 and $4,000 for couples. Democrats, who had long supported a much larger relief package, jumped on the opportunity to push for an expansion.
On Thursday, rather than focusing on the president’s demands for larger relief payments, the House GOP emphasized Trump’s criticism of several billions of dollars in foreign aid included in the overall bill, proposing that money be stripped from the package, despite the president’s previous support of much of that spending. House Democrats blocked this proposal.
The relief was passed as part of a larger bill totaling roughly $2.4 trillion, which also funded the federal government through September of 2021.
Trump has signed a stopgap budget keeping the government running through Dec. 28. That means the government will shut down at midnight on Monday if Trump doesn’t sign the larger bill that pairs government funding with coronavirus aid.
Alternatively, Congress could pass another stopgap measure on Monday that keeps the government open for a short period of time at previous funding levels while negotiations continue.