Update (1920ET): Following Pelosi's earlier plea to Republicans to agree to a bill calling for $2,000 stimulus checks which she will put to a vote in the House on Tuesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he would object to a bill boosting stimulus payments for individuals to $2,000, Bloomberg reports citing a person who participated in a private call with GOP House members. Furthermore, the Republican also plans to offer a new Continuing Resolution separating state and foreign aid from the omnibus. And since McCarthy's position will see objection from Dems, we are - as CNBC's Kayla Tausche puts it - "Back at square one."
If the measure fails on Thursday, which it now appears certain to do, Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal will introduce a new bill, called the Cash Act, to be put on the floor Monday. That bill would codify the larger stimulus payments, Pelosi told Democrats in a private call on Wednesday, according to a person on the call.
Trump’s demand for bigger checks came alongside various complaints about the tens of billions in pork, including hundreds of millions in foreign aid, contained in the $2.3 trillion ($900 billion in Covid-19 relief with $1.4 trillion in government funding) bill, which was passed with big bipartisan support on Monday despite virtually nobody reading the 5,500+ pages of the full legislation.
If Trump does not sign the approved legislation by Dec. 28, the government may shut down after midnight due to lack of approved funding: “The entire country knows that it is urgent for the president to sign this bill, both to provide the coronavirus relief and to keep government open,” Pelosi said in her letter.
Before McCarthy's comment, Pelosi said she planned to convene the House at 9 a.m. Thursday, although that may now be moot. If her unanimous-consent request is blocked, Pelosi would then need to decide whether they want to the bring it before the entire House for a roll-call vote.
As we explained earlier, stocks mostly shrugged off the news on the complications in Washington and on the economy because as Vital Knowledge founder Adam Crisafulli wrote, Trump’s criticism and veto threat, "won’t alter the macro narrative" and that "even if Trump actually vetoes (unlikely) and Congress fails to override it (also unlikely, given the stimulus/budget passed with veto-proof majorities), this will only delay the inevitable by 27 days (which would be unfortunate, but not material).”
"The big debate isn’t whether the $900b stimulus gets passed into law but instead if it represents a ‘down payment’ or the last major fiscal response to the pandemic,” with the outcome of Georgia Senate races in early January playing a “big role in answering that question."
Raymond James analyst Ed Mills’ base case remains that the bill passed by Congress will become law, as the package passed both the House and the Senate with veto-proof margins, and $2,000 payments have no support among Republican lawmakers. He added that Trump’s “demand is arguably a net positive for Democrats’ chances in the Georgia Senate races, as Republicans will be forced on the defensive."
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Update (1056ET): Pelosi says she's 'waiting to hear from House GOP' over the $2,000 checks, after calling on GOP leadership to consent to a measure increasing direct stimulus payments to $2,000 during Thursday's pro forma session at 9:00 a.m.
Pelosi says she plans to proceed Thursday with a bill to replace the $600 stimulus checks in this week's pandemic relief bill which was kicked back by President Trump - who Pelosi encouraged to pressure GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to get behind.
"To do so requires the agreement of the Republican Leader."
#NEW: @SpeakerPelosi in a letter to House Democrats: “If the President truly wants to join us in $2,000 payments, he should call upon Leader McCarthy to agree to our Unanimous Consent request.” pic.twitter.com/9ibgfxNuWf— Reshad Hudson (@ReshadHudson) December 23, 2020
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) signaled that they are open to increasing the amount for the stimulus checks after President Donald Trump threatened to veto the COVID relief bill unless the direct payment was increased to $2,000 per individual.
“Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks. At last, the President has agreed to $2,000—Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!” Pelosi wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
“We spent months trying to secure $2,000 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,” Schumer wrote on Twitter shortly after Pelosi issued her message.
In a video message issued earlier on Tuesday, the president threatened to veto the $2.3 trillion omnibus spending and pandemic relief bill.
“Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists, and special interests,” the president said, “while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it.”
“It wasn’t their fault. It was China’s fault.”
Trump said that lawmakers need to send him a suitable piece of legislation by his standards—or else the next administration will have to sign off on the measure.
“And maybe that administration will be me,” he added.
The president pointed to hundreds of millions of dollars tagged for the Egyptian military, Cambodia, Burma, “gender programs” in Pakistan, and numerous other countries. These provisions were also singled out by progressives and conservatives alike as an example of pork-barrel spending.
On Monday night, a number of lawmakers griped that they didn’t have enough time to look through the approximately 5,500-page bill (pdf).
Trump also noted that tens of millions of dollars are going to the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. “which is not even open for business,” as well as the National Gallery of Arts and the Smithsonian.
Other non-pandemic measures were included, such as combatting the spread of Asian carp in the Great Lakes area, construction projects at the FBI, and others.
The president said he would also veto the bill because stimulus payments are being doled out to “illegal aliens” and their families.
“Despite all of this wasteful spending, the $900 billion package provides hardworking taxpayers only $600 [to Americans] in relief payments,” he said, arguing that not enough cash is being provided to small business owners who have suffered during the pandemic induced lockdowns.