Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are planning to vote Monday on higher pandemic relief payments to Americans, after President Donald Trump backed down from his fight with lawmakers over the payments and signed a $2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending package.
On Sunday Trump signed the spending package, which includes $600 in stimulus payments for struggling Americans, after previously calling the bill “a disgrace.”
Trump called for the stimulus payments to be boosted to $2,000 while also criticizing funding for multiple government programs in the spending bill such as foreign aid and scientific research.
Democrats in the House agree that the payments should be higher and will vote Monday on issuing $2,000 relief checks for Americans. However, the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to oppose the measure.
Trump’s support for the larger checks had been seen as a rebuke to members of his Republican party, who resisted Democratic efforts to negotiate larger payments.
“As President, I have told Congress that I want far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child,” Trump said in a statement announcing his signature for the spending bill.
Without Trump’s signature or passage of a stopgap measure to fund operations, a partial government shutdown would have begun Tuesday. Increased unemployment benefits and eviction protections expired early Sunday.
The spending bill Trump signed includes $900 billion for coronavirus relief and $1.4 trillion for government funding through next September.
Will Congress override Trump veto?
The House is also expected vote Monday on a measure that would override Trump’s veto of a $740 billion bill funding the country’s defense programs. The measure would also give raises to members of the military and set Pentagon policy on issues such as troop levels, weapons systems and personnel matters.
If the House approves the veto override Monday, the Senate could vote on the measure as early as Tuesday. A two-thirds vote in both chambers is required to override a presidential veto.
Trump has criticized the defense bill on several fronts, arguing without explanation that the bill benefits China. He has demanded the removal of language that allows the renaming of military bases that honor leaders of the Confederacy, which attempted to secede from the United States in the 1860s.
He has also demanded the addition of a provision making it easier to sue social media companies over content posted by their users.
Pelosi called Trump’s veto “an act of staggering recklessness that harms our troops.”
Congress is interrupting its usual Christmas recess to return to work on Monday.
Democrats have characterized the coronavirus relief bill as just a first step in their push for a more expansive aid package.
“We need to ensure robust support for state and local government to distribute and administer a vaccine, keep workers employed and prevent devastating service cuts – and we must do so as soon as possible,” Pelosi said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Trump for preventing “a government shutdown at a time when our nation could not have afforded one.”
“The bipartisan rescue package that Republicans in Congress and the Trump Administration negotiated with the Democrats will extend another major lifeline to workers at struggling small businesses, renew major relief for laid-off Americans, invest billions more in vaccine distribution, send cash directly to households, and more. The compromise bill is not perfect, but it will do an enormous amount of good for struggling Kentuckians and Americans across the country who need help now,” McConnell said in a statement.
Trump said in announcing his signature for the spending package that he was also insisting on changes to the funding legislation to remove what he called “wasteful items.” Those demands amount to suggestions to Congress and will not necessarily result in any changes to the bill.
“I am signing this bill to restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP, return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more,” Trump added.