Last Monday, the House voted to increase the second round of direct relief payments from $600 to $2000 stimulus checks. The Democrats responded to President Donald Trump’s call for Congress to increase weed out pork and instead give the money to Americans who need them more.
During Monday’s fast-track vote, 44 Republicans joined the majority of Democrats in approving the increase 275-134. This barely made it to the needed two-thirds majority. Despite Trump’s personal appeal to increase stimulus checks to $2000, 130 Republicans voted against the measure.
The CASH Act
The bill, named the CASH act (Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help), aims to add an additional $1,400 financial assistance. Qualified Americans about to receive $600 assistance will also receive an additional $1,4000 to bring the total stimulus support to $2,000. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) said that “The House and the President are in agreement: we must deliver $2,000 checks to American families struggling this Holiday Season. The House just passed the #CASHAct — it’s time for the Senate to do the same.”
The total budget for the additional amount is $404 billion, according to the House Joint Committee on Taxation. One of the major issues raised by Republicans is the need to keep any support packages under $1 trillion. Approving this bill would cross this threshold, which may not sit well with budget hawks from the GOP.
Next Stop: The Senate
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Senate Dems would try to pass the legislation on Tuesday. In a statement, he said: “Every Senate Democrat is for this much-needed increase in emergency financial relief, which can be approved tomorrow if no Republican blocks it – there is no good reason for Senate Republicans to stand in the way.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) did not mention any plans to vote during his remarks thanking Trump for signing the earlier bill. However, at least one Republican senator, Marco Rubio(R-Fl), said he will support additional payments for Americans. In a statement, Rubio said that “I share many of my colleagues’ concern about the long-term effects of additional spending, but we cannot ignore the fact that millions of working-class families across the nation are still in dire need of relief.”
Added Pressure to Republicans
To add pressure to Republicans to act, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) joined the fray. He said he will delay the Senate’s plan to override Trump’s earlier veto on the Defense bill if the Senate won’t vote on the Cash Act. The Senate possesses the majority to override Trump’s veto, but Sanders can delay the vote by filibustering it until New Year's Day. “The American people are desperate, and the Senate has got to do its job before leaving town,” he said. “It would be unconscionable, especially after the House did the right thing, for the Senate to simply leave Washington without voting on this.”
In addition, Sanders can also keep Georgia senatorial candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) from campaigning in their home state. Under Senate rules, Sanders can keep the chamber in session during the holiday week. Meanwhile, the Democratic candidates, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock will continue campaigning and say they support $2,000 checks. Georgia holds the key in determining which party will hold the Senate majority.
Although President Trump signed the COVID relief bill last Sunday, he criticized the small amount of $600 given to Americans. He called the legislation a “disgrace,” and continued to call for additional money for citizens. Trump’s opposition to the bill took White House officials and Congressional Republicans who helped draft the bill by surprise. It also puts Republicans in a quandary. On one hand, they toe the party line but suffer the wrath of the public hell-bent on getting more support. On the other, they side with Trump but also abandon their hardline stance to keep relief budgets under control.
Watch the CNBC coverage of the House vote to increase stimulus checks from $600 to $2000:
Republicans, especially those in the Senate are on the clock. Should they support the President, give in to popular sentiment, and give the people what they need? Or, should they stay the course and risk losing their Senate majority? What do you think they should do? Let us know what you think. Share with us your ideas by writing in the comment section below.