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Battle over $2,000 Covid-19 aid checks shifts to US Senate

  • Published at 03:15 pm December 29th, 2020
Donald Trump
File photo: US President Donald Trump participates in a Thanksgiving video teleconference with members of the military forces at the White House, in Washington on November 26, 2020 Reuters

The Democratic-led House of Representatives on Monday approved the direct payments in a 275-134 vote

An unusual battle in Congress over President Donald Trump's demand for $2,000 coronavirus aid checks for Americans shifts to the Senate, where Republicans opposed to higher spending are under pressure to approve the additional relief.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives on Monday approved the direct payments in a 275-134 vote, and Senate Democrats plan to push Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the chamber, to allow a floor vote on the legislation. They have threatened to tie up Senate floor procedures until he does.

The Senate is already expected to take up a measure to override Trump's veto of a $740 billion defence policy bill. The House voted to override the veto on Monday by 322-87 with most Republicans voting with a large majority of Democrats.

If the Senate seconds the House action, the bill becomes law. It would be the first veto override of Trump's presidency, which ends on January 20 when Democratic President-elect Joe Biden will take office.

Senate action on the veto had been expected on Wednesday but could now be delayed by wrangling over the coronavirus aid payments.

A combined $892 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief package and $1.4 trillion spending bill that Trump signed into law on Sunday contains $600 checks for individuals hit hard by a pandemic that has infected more than 19 million Americans and killed over 333,000.

Trump's signing of the package staved off a US government shutdown but he also pushed for the stimulus checks to be raised to $2,000, and he reasserted that demand on Tuesday, tweeting: "Give the people $2000, not $600. They have suffered enough!"

Democrats have been happy to take advantage. They pushed for a quick House vote on Monday and enough Republicans backed it for it to be passed.

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