President Donald Trump unexpectedly denounced the bipartisan COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress this week, demanding $2,000 stimulus checks that had been opposed by Republicans.
Trump called the $900 billion package “a disgrace” in a video posted online on Tuesday night and indicated that he may not sign the legislation.
He called for lawmakers to amend it to increase the economic impact payments allocated for most Americans from the “ridiculously low” sum of $600 to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples.
Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had been pushing for similar-sized payments that were resisted by Republican lawmakers, immediately welcomed the president’s intervention.
Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks. At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 â€” Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Letâ€™s do it! https://t.co/Th4sztrpLV
â€” Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) December 23, 2020
“Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks,” Pelosi tweeted.
“At last, the President has agreed to $2,000â€”Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!”
An aide told The Associated Press that Pelosi would put the proposal forward for a vote on the issue Thursday.
Meanwhile, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted that she and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) had the amendment Trump was asking for “ready to go.”
“Let’s do it. @RashidaTlaib and I already co-wrote the COVID amendment for $2,000 checks, so it’s ready to go,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “Glad to see the President is willing to support our legislation. We can pass $2k checks this week if the Senate GOP agrees to stand down.”
Letâ€™s do it. @RashidaTlaib and I already co-wrote the COVID amendment for $2,000 checks, so itâ€™s ready to go.
Glad to see the President is willing to support our legislation.
We can pass $2k checks this week if the Senate GOP agrees to stand down. https://t.co/GprwrUPali pic.twitter.com/nFFs1ExqCK
â€” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 23, 2020
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also noted that Republicans had spent months blocking Democrats’ push for $2,000 checksâ€”and called on the president to ensure his GOP allies don’t block it again.
“We spent months trying to secure $2000 checks but Republicans blocked it,” he tweeted. “Trump needs to sign the bill to help people and keep the government open and we’re glad to pass more aid Americans need. Maybe Trump can finally make himself useful and get Republicans not to block it again.”
We spent months trying to secure $2000 checks but Republicans blocked it
Trump needs to sign the bill to help people and keep the government open and we’re glad to pass more aid Americans need
Maybe Trump can finally make himself useful and get Republicans not to block it again
â€” Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) December 23, 2020
In another tweet tagging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Schumer urged him to support the amendment put forward by Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib.
“I’m in. Whaddya say, Mitch? Let’s not get bogged down with ideological offsets and unrelated items and just DO THIS! The American people deserve it,” he wrote.
Iâ€™m in. Whaddya say, Mitch? Letâ€™s not get bogged down with ideological offsets and unrelated items and just DO THIS! The American people deserve it. @senatemajldr https://t.co/L1b5rUkc7h
â€” Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) December 23, 2020
Earlier this week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had said the $600 stimulus checks would be sent out at the beginning of next week after the deal on the COVID-19 relief package was reached. A delay is likely if Trump vetoes the bill and there is not enough support in Congress to override him.
After months of stalemate, lawmakers passed the COVID-19 relief bill on Monday by combining it with a larger $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund government operations for the coming fiscal year. This included provisions for foreign aid and funding for institutions like the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Smithsonian.
But Trump characterized those as “wasteful and unnecessary.”
“Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.
“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple.”
He called on Congress to “send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a Covid relief package.”
Although many lawmakers had complained that they did not have enough time to read the relief bill, Trump said that they overwhelmingly voted to pass the legislation and provide economic relief to those in dire need.
As well as $600 stimulus checks, the bill would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit as well as additional funding for struggling businesses, schools and renters facing eviction.
President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday said the package is “far from perfect, but it does provide vital relief at a critical moment.”
“We have our first hint and glimpse of bipartisanship,” Biden said at a news conference in Wilmington, Delaware. “I applaud the Congress their economic relief package that included funding for vaccine distribution, much needed temporary relief for workers, families, and small businesses.”
Biden also said a third round of stimulus checks would be needed after he takes office in January.