Georgia Republican Senator David Perdue’s political advertisement espousing the virtues of a proposed $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief bill that included $600 direct assistance payments for eligible Americans was undercut by President Donald Trump‘s Tuesday intimation that he would not sign the bill into law.
Congress passed the stimulus package on Monday after weeks of negotiations. On Tuesday, Trump released a video asking for Congress to rework the legislation and provide direct assistance payments of $2,000 for qualifying Americans.
In the ad, a voiceover can be heard criticizing Perdue’s Democratic opponent for the Senate seat, Jon Ossoff, for his alleged resistance to providing COVID relief.
“Jon Ossoff opposed past COVID relief and encouraged Democrats to block additional aid for months,” the advertisement said. “But Senator Perdue never gave up. Perdue again delivered real meaningful help for Georgians. $900 billion in new COVID relief. Direct checks to Georgians. Critical funding for vaccine distribution. Small businesses, public schools and help for those out of work.”
“Ossoff obstructed,” the 30-second spot added. “Perdue delivered.”
In a move that surprised many observers, Trump said Tuesday evening that he wanted Americans to receive more money. “I’m asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 per couple,” Trump said.
Ossoff tweeted his support of Trump’s request for higher payments. “$2,000 checks now,” Ossoff wrote on Tuesday.
Newsweek reached out to Perdue’s office for comment.
Ossoff criticized Perdue at a December campaign event for not pushing for higher direct assistance payments, telling attendees that Perdue “should be in Washington delivering $1,200 checks for every single Georgian and $500 for every child in this state, because people are hurting and we need help now.”
Before Trump’s announcement, Perdue and fellow Georgia Republican Senate candidate Kelly Loeffler had been counting on the direct assistance payments to sway voters to their sides. In a joint statement released Monday, Perdue and Loeffler said they had “provided two rounds of relief checks to help everyone make ends meet.”
On Monday, before the stimulus package passed in Congress, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said $600 checks could start being sent out “just in time for the holidays.” Trump’s call for higher payment amounts means that when or if checks are distributed to Americans is currently up in the air.
Trump is expected to spend the winter holidays at Mar-A-Lago, his Florida resort. If Trump does not sign the bill within 10 days of receiving it, the bill would not move forward leaving Congress to possibly revisit the legislation in 2021. House Democrats have indicated that they are ready to unanimously pass a standalone bill that would allow the $2,000 checks to be sent out.
Republicans are keen to win both special elections in Georgia. If the two Republicans retain their Senate seats, the GOP will keep control of the Senate. If Democrats win the two elections, the Senate would be equally split between the two parties. Democrats may have the advantage in the case of a tie because Democrat Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be in charge of casting the tie-breaking vote.