Sens. Ed Markey and Bernie Sanders say they'll hold up a $740 billion defense bill until Republicans allow the Senate to vote on increasing COVID-19 stimulus checks to $2,000. Democrats quickly jumped on board and, while Trump signed the bill with the $600 payments, he urged Congress to take up the stimulus funds again.
But many Republicans had opposed stimulus payments larger than the US$600 in the existing law, in part over concerns about the price tag.
The US House of Representatives dealt a blow to President Donald Trump on Monday by rejecting his veto of a defense bill, setting the stage for the Senate to deliver a humiliating first veto override in the final days of his presidency.
By saying that the Senate would later address the issue of increasing direct payments to individuals, McConnell was reluctant to commit to putting the $2,000 checks, earlier approved by the House, to quick consideration.
"Senate Republicans must do the same and get the American people the help they need", Markey said. But Democrats, sharing a rare priority with Trump, have seized on the opportunity to force Republicans into a hard vote of either backing or defying the outgoing president.
With the New Year's Day holiday on Friday and a new Congress due to be sworn into office on Sunday, the current crop of lawmakers have only a short time to act.
Outlook Through The New Year
Temperatures slowly fall this evening as we only drop back into the upper 50′s and lower 60′s through early evening. So if you are heading off to work you may want a light jacket, but we will see another warm afternoon into Monday .
Trump's sudden decision to sign the bill came as he faced escalating criticism from lawmakers on all sides over his eleventh-hour demands. But on Sunday, as a government shutdown loomed, he signed the bill.
"The leaders of our country, President Trump, President-elect Biden, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are all in agreement", Sanders said. "And it is time for [Republican Senate Majority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell to bring this legislation to the floor for a vote". With the Schumer attempt blocked, McConnell could point out that there is not agreement to process the House bill on the floor by the time the current session of Congress ends on January 3.
Mr. McConnell said he would link any action on raising the checks from the current $600 with two other demands from President Trump: to investigate election integrity and to remove liability protection for Big Tech companies.
In an interview with CNN, Boxer said that the circumstances are totally different this year, when Trump and his allies are seeking to overturn a national election result, than when she joined with then-Ohio Democratic Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones to object to Kerry's loss. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, has said he'd back the payments.
Democrats, with help from Trump's Twitter feed, are pushing for a vote on the additional money, a step they believe could give them an advantage in two Georgia runoff elections next week that will determine which party controls the Senate under President-elect Joe Biden's incoming administration.
"For the fearless men and women of the United States Armed Forces, failure is not an option". Sanders' request would have set a vote on the bill for stimulus checks up for Wednesday afternoon.