Stimulus update today: Republicans block checks for $ 2,000 while President Trump leaves COVID help in chaos

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s sudden demand for $ 2,000 checks for most Americans was quickly rejected by House Republicans as his disorderly actions threw chaos and enormous help from COVID and government funding into chaos.

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

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

The prospect looks dire for Republicans and the president who is stepping down, while the nation suffers from the worst holiday season that many can remember. Families are isolated under COVID’s precautions and millions of American homes are devastated without adequate income, food or shelter. The number of virus deaths from more than 327,000 is increasing.

Trump is ending his presidency the same way he started – sowing confusion and reversing promises while challenging the election and courting a federal shutdown because of demands that his own Congress party will not meet.

WATCH: In the Twitter video, Trump suggests he will not sign the COVID relief law

Republican Congressional leaders were almost speechless by Trump’s hard work at the end of the year.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy helped negotiate the year-end deal, an award-winning bipartisan agreement that gained wide approval this week in the House and Senate after the The White House assured Republican Party leaders that Trump supported him.

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

Instead, Washington is now precipitating a crisis with the help of COVID about to collapse, as the president is at his club in Mar-a-Lago. He has criticized Republican leaders for refusing to join their efforts to overturn the election that Joe Biden won when Electoral College votes are counted in Congress on January 6.

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

Rushing to save the year-end legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Mnuchin are in talks about options.

Democrats will call House legislators back to Washington for a vote on Monday over Trump’s proposal, with a checklist that would place all registered members as supporting or rejecting the $ 2,000 checks. They are also considering a vote on Monday on an interim measure to at least avoid a federal strike. This would keep the government running until Biden is sworn in on January 20. Lawmakers will also be asked to override Trump’s veto on a mandatory defense bill.

After presiding over the short session of the House, an exasperated Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., Lamented the possibility that COVID’s assistance could collapse.

“It is Christmas Eve, but it is not a silent night. Not everything is calm. For many, nothing is brilliant,” she said on Capitol Hill.

A city hall she organized the night before “made people cry, people terrified of what was going to happen,” she said. A father recently told her that he needed to tell his children that Santa Claus would not be there this year.

The president’s pressure to increase direct payments for most Americans from $ 600 to $ 2,000 for individuals and $ 4,000 for couples boosts Democrats’ support, but divides the Republican Party with a politically difficult test of its loyalty to president.

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Republican lawmakers traditionally refuse big spending, never fully embracing Trump’s populist approach. Many are opposed to checks over $ 2,000 because they are too expensive and misdirected.

In a conference call on Wednesday, Republican House legislators complained that Trump threw them under the bus, according to a Republican on the private conference call and granted anonymity to discuss the matter. Most voted for the package and asked Republican leaders to watch cable news programs to explain its benefits, the person said.

Still, the president found common ground with Democrats, especially liberals who support $ 2,000 payments as the best way to help struggling Americans. Democrats only conformed to the lowest 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 Republican-controlled Senate, which is due to return to the session on Tuesday.

The president’s unpredictable demands are creating more Trump-related headaches for GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue of Georgia, who are fighting for their political lives – and for continued control of the Senate by the Republican Party – in a runoff on January 5 in the Georgia elections. They are being forced to choose between supporting or resisting Trump, potentially irritating voters on all sides.

The clash on Thursday unfolded when the Democratic-controlled House met for a routine pro-forma session, which had been scheduled before Trump’s sudden movements, when lawmakers predicted that no business would be conducted.

Instead, the House’s 12-minute session turned into a procedural brawl as Hoyer, the House’s second Democrat, sought unanimous approval from all House members to pass the bill with Trump’s proposal. GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who was not present in the almost empty chamber, declined.

House Republicans then tried, and failed, to get unanimous approval for their own proposal to revisit routine foreign aid financing, which Trump cited as one of his main objections to the overall spending package.

The holiday package that Trump criticized as a “disgrace” is the product of months of work. He would establish a supplementary temporary unemployment benefit of $ 300 a week, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants and theaters and money for schools. The money is included for health care providers and to help distribute the COVID vaccine. Trump targeted foreign aid funds in the package he agreed to in the past and asked for in his annual budget.

The final text of the 5,000-page bill took days to compile, but Pelosi announced on Thursday that it was completed and sent to the White House for Trump’s signature.

The year-end calendar complicates the schedule ahead. Even if Trump does not formally veto the package, he can allow him to expire with a “pocket veto” at the end of the Congressional session.

The Senate approved the huge aid package on Monday by 92 votes to 6, after the House passed it by 359 to 53. Those total votes would be enough to override a veto if Trump decided to take that step.

WATCH: Mixed-status families excluded from the first stimulus checks may see relief with the second round


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