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U.S. House votes to up stimulus checks to $2,000 & override Trump’s defense bill veto

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UPDATE: WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. House has voted to increase Covid-19 relief checks to $2,000, meeting President Donald Trump’s demand for bigger payments and sending the bill to the GOP-controlled Senate, where the outcome is uncertain.

Democrats led passage, 275-134, their majority favoring additional assistance. They had settled for smaller $600 payments in a compromise with Republicans over the big year-end relief bill Trump reluctantly signed into law.

The vote divides Republicans who mostly resist more spending. But many House Republicans joined in support, despite being wary of bucking the president. Senators are set to return to session Tuesday to consider the measure.

The House also voted 322-87 to override President Trump’s veto of the $741 billion defense bill in a bi-partisan rebuke. If approved by the Senate, the override would be the first of Trump’s presidency.

Trump rejected the defense bill last week, saying it failed to limit social media companies he claims were biased against him during his failed re-election campaign. Trump also opposes language that allows for the renaming of military bases that honor Confederate leaders.

The bill affirms 3% pay raises for U.S. troops and authorizes billions in military programs and construction and has broad support in Congress.

ORIGINAL REPORT: WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on Monday on a measure to increase stimulus checks for Americans under a certain income level to $2,000 after President Trump signed a sweeping coronavirus relief bill into law Sunday evening.

That legislation, which was negotiated on a bipartisan basis, provides for $600 in direct payments, but after a deal was brokered and passed out of Congress, Trump railed against the amount as too low and called for $2,000 checks instead, prompting House Democrats to push for an increase.

Democrats have seized on Trump’s 11th-hour complaint over the direct payments in a bid to push congressional Republicans to accept a higher amount, forcing GOP lawmakers to decide whether or not to defy the President after many have argued that the overall cost for a stimulus package should not rise too high.

House Republicans blocked an effort by Democrats to advance $2,000 checks last week, but the House will try again on Monday with a floor vote. That vote will require a two-thirds majority to pass since it is taking place under a suspension of the rules, a threshold that means it would need a wide margin of bipartisan support to be approved.

A Republican leadership aide told CNN that while the Republican side is not whipping the bill, “there’s a good chance it can pass.” It’s far from certain, but aides are warning it’s possible.

“The President must immediately call on congressional Republicans to end their obstruction and to join him and Democrats in support of our stand-alone legislation to increase direct payment checks to $2,000, which will be brought to the Floor tomorrow,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Sunday evening after Trump signed the stimulus legislation.

“Every Republican vote against this bill is a vote to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny the American people the relief they need,” Pelosi said.

The President’s last-minute objections to the stimulus legislation initially threw into question whether he would sign it at all. When Trump finally did sign the legislation Sunday evening, he signaled in a statement that he signed the coronavirus relief bill only after securing a commitment for the Senate to consider legislation to increase stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, did not reference that commitment in his own statement Sunday night praising the President for signing the relief bill.

If the bill actually passes the House of Representatives with a strong Republican vote, it will put McConnell in a tough position of having to decide whether to bring the provision to the floor in the Senate as a standalone bill. While the President has been urging Republicans to up the payments, many Republicans in McConnell’s ranks have made it clear they don’t think an increase is warranted given how much it would increase the price tag of the stimulus bill. A vote on the checks would likely divide the GOP conference and force some members to endure Trump’s ire in his final days in office.

Eligibility for the checks is determined by a person’s most recent tax returns. Anyone who made under $75,000 as an individual or $150,000 as a couple would receive the full amount. The amount individuals receive decreases by $5 for every $100 a person makes over $75,000. In short, that means that individuals who make over $99,000 would not be eligible nor would couples making more than $198,000.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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