Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives blocked a Democratic attempt Thursday to pass President Donald Trump’s demand for $2,000 stimulus payments to millions of Americans who have been hard hit by the U.S. coronavirus pandemic.
Late Tuesday, the outgoing president demanded an increase in direct payments from $600 to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples, despite broad opposition within the Republican Party.
Thursday House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer sought the unanimous approval of Trump’s proposal from House members but House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy denied the approval, ending an unusual 12-minute pro forma session.
Trump had suggested Tuesday he will not sign into law a $900 billion emergency COVID-19 aid bill unless lawmakers approve larger stimulus payments.
A Trump veto would likely trigger a brief, partial federal government shutdown beginning Dec. 29 and delay delivery of the $600 stimulus payments in the bill when millions desperately need assistance.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans are opposed the larger $2,000 checks, saying they are too costly and poorly targeted.
Trump’s efforts to change the relief package come as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office on Jan. 20. The bill had been approved by the House and Senate by wide, bipartisan margins.
Without Trump’s signature, unemployment benefits for those who lost jobs due to the pandemic would expire as soon as Saturday, followed by a partial government shutdown beginning Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Congress approved a $2.3 trillion catchall spending bill that includes the $900 billion in COVID-19 aid and $1.4 trillion to fund the government through the next fiscal year.
The House is scheduled to return to Capitol Hill on Monday, and the Senate Tuesday, for a vote to override Trump's veto of the measure.
Democrats are contemplating a second stopgap bill to at least keep the government operating until Biden is sworn into office Jan. 20, according to two aides, who spoke anonymously to address the private talks.