President Trump may have signed off on more COVID-19 relief funding, but that doesn’t mean the fight is finished. Although Congress passed a government funding bill containing several vital lifelines for struggling Americans, many feel it falls drastically short — namely, the $600 stimulus checks.
The president disparaged the $2.3 trillion bill for the meager amount on Sunday but approved it regardless. Armed with President Trump and several Republicans’ support, the House approved the Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help (CASH) Act, a standalone measure to raise the amount from $600 to $2,000 for individuals earning less than $75,000 and $600 for child dependents Monday night.
Before the House voted on the legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told fellow representatives, “The President of the United States has put this forth as something that he wants to see and part of his signing the legislation yesterday. I hope that view will be shared by the Republicans in the Senate.”
While the bill passed overwhelmingly in the House, it remains unclear if the Senate will be as willing to approve it. The move comes at a critical time, with two Republican-held Senate seats up for election in January and tensions between the White House and GOP high.
Throughout the last months of negotiations, many believed that lawmakers would include stimulus checks in the next stimulus package. Not only were the direct payments popular among Americans, but they also had support from both political parties and the Trump administration. So when the provision became a sticking point in the last weeks of negotiations, it was a surprise to many.
A bipartisan coalition introduced a package including more stimulus checks and pushed for the $1,200 provided under the CARES Act in March. While lawmakers eventually included the measure in the government spending bill, they cut the amount by half.
The House’s overwhelming approval of the $2,000 payments arises four days after Republican representatives rejected the first vote — a surprising move that went against President Trump, who scorned the stimulus deal as a “disgrace” for its perceived excessive spending and inadequate payments.
Now, it’s up to the Senate to take the measure to the floor for a vote. Many believe it is unlikely to pass and that Americans will have to settle with $600 checks. If the Senate does move forward with a vote, a minimum of 60 senators would have to approve it. This means that Democrats will have their work cut out to get backing from enough lawmakers for the bill to pass.
When President Trump signed the bill on Sunday, he did so on the promise that GOP Senators would reconsider increasing the amount of the checks. However, top Republican leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have yet to suggest where they stand on the bill.
On Sunday, McConnell gave a statement praising President Trump for signing the stimulus deal but failed to mention any guarantees made to the president. His silence mirrors the GOP’s reluctance to significantly raise the price tag on another round of pandemic relief, citing the federal deficit and the trillions already spent in 2020.
In the meantime, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stated that when the House passes the bill, he will immediately bring it to a Senate vote. However, if even one Senator objects to the measure, the vote will not proceed.
While the House vote is welcome news for millions of people, not everyone is optimistic. According to Mark Harkins, a senior fellow at Georgetown’s Government Affairs Institute and former congressional staffer, the approval “practically means nothing.”
“Leader McConnell has shown zero interest in bringing forward this type of assistance as many Republicans believe there are better ways to target this level of funding,” Harkins told Yahoo Money.
But with the Georgia special election right around the corner, Republicans may not want to risk losing their seats by rejecting the measure. “The only impact may be on the runoff races in Georgia, as the Republican candidates now need to explain to the tens of thousands of unemployed and hungry in Georgia why the Republican leadership in the Senate is blocking this aid,” Harkins added.
- Hagen, Lisa. “House Passes Bill Increasing Stimulus Checks to $2,000, Fate Uncertain in Senate.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 28 Dec. 2020, www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2020-12-28/house-passes-bill-increasing-stimulus-checks-to-2-000-fate-uncertain-in-senate.
- Tsekova, Denitsa. “House Passes Bill to Increase Stimulus Checks from $600 to $2,000.” Yahoo!, Yahoo!, 29 Dec. 2020, money.yahoo.com/house-passes-2000-stimulus-checks-legislation-231432115.html.