Second stimulus check news summary, 24 December: $2,000 payment, Trump veto, amount...

US coronavirus relief bill and second stimulus check: live updates

Second stimulus check: latest news

Headlines:

- New, $900bn covid-19 relief bill passed by Congress on Monday (full details)

- President Trump threatens to veto the bill (full details)

- Trump heads to Florida to spend Christmas at Mar-A-Lago

- Republicans in Congress refuse to approve $2,000 stimulus checks

- Government shutdown at year-end unless a federal funding package is agreed

- Trump wants $600 stimulus checks to be increased to $2,000

- Democrats refuse to slash foreign aid spending included in the federal funding bill, as per Trump's request

Trump may use stimulus bill as revenge for perceived betrayals on both sides

President Trump on Saturday continued to demand changes to the $900 billion stimulus deal that Democrats and Republicans approved on Dec. 21, raising the odds that the government could shut down on Tuesday and the economy could suffer a devastating shock in the final days of his presidency.

His demand for $2,000 stimulus checks is a direct rejection of the $600 checks that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had personally proposed and negotiated with Democrats and Republicans.

Now, Trump’s rejection of the deal has confounded many leaders on Capitol Hill because they had thought Mnuchin negotiated the package on behalf of the president. The treasury chief’s standing with many lawmakers is now in tatters just days before a full-blown crisis is set to occur.

This frightening timeline is a real possibility according to Jeff Stein at the Washington Post

1/Trump vetoes bill, demands a) foreign aid stripped and b) 2K payments;

2/Ds don’t agree to (a); Rs don’t agree to (b);

3/Rs aren’t willing to override veto on $900B;

4/Gridlock, no attempt to override veto

5/Relief bill dies

Democrats to vote tomorrow on separate stimulus bill with $2,000 checks

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that House Democrats would vote Monday on a standalone bill that would provide direct payments to Americans of $2,000 a person.

Pelosi, D-Calif., made the announcement moments after House Republicans blocked a Democratic bid to increase the payments as passed in the stimulus bill earlier this week from $600 a person to $2,000.

"On Monday, I will bring the House back to session, where we will hold a recorded vote on our stand-alone bill to increase economic impact payments to $2,000. To vote against this bill is to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny them the relief they need," Pelosi said in a statement Thursday morning.

Via NBC News

Why do we need to get two covid-19 vaccine shots?

It’s common for a vaccine to require two doses spread apart, giving the body time to respond. How do the coronavirus vaccines work and why do you get two doses?

Donald Trump's Christmas address

The president and first lady released a Christmas message via a video, loosely comparing the birth of Christ to the “miracle” of the covid-19 vaccine, a nd avoiding any mention of the chaos surrounding the yet-to-be-passed stimulus bill.

"A mistake to not sign the coronavirus relief bill"

Republican Senator Roy Blunt acknowledged that: “It took us a long time to get to where we are. I think reopening that bill would be a mistake,” he continued.

Millions of Americans lose jobless benefits with Trump refusal to sign aid bill

Millions of Americans saw their jobless benefits expire on Saturday after U.S. President Donald Trump refused to sign into law a $2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending package.

US will require negative covid test for all UK arrivals

The US government will require all airline passengers arriving from the United Kingdom to test negative for covid-19 within 72 hours of departure starting Monday amid concerns about a new coronavirus variant that may be more transmissible.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement  that all airline passengers arriving from the UK must test negative in order to fly to the United States. The decision was a swift turnaround after the Trump administration told US airlines on Tuesday it was not planning to require any testing for arriving UK passengers.

Lawmakers had been calling for larger stimulus checks for months

Despite the President's dramatic intervention earlier this week he was far from the first in Washington to suggest that stimulus checks need to be bigger. A number of progressive voices in Congress had called for $2,000 direct payments to be included in the new bill. 

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had compared the US response to that of Canada, where residents are being given $2,000 a month to see them through the pandemic. 

"Make up your mind! $2,000 sounds good"

One Hawaii resident calls on the government to get the new stimulus check deal sorted as quickly as possible, in the island's own inimitable style. 

How will the stimulus/federal funding bill stand-off end?

Despite months of talks on Christmas Day 2020 the President is still yet to sign the vital stimulus bill or federal funding bill, causing great uncertainty as we end the year. Here's three ways the stand-off in Washington could end:

TRUMP BACKS DOWN

Trump signs the 5,500-page bill, despite Congress' refusal so far to meet his demands. He wants far larger coronavirus relief checks for Americans and major reductions to the foreign aid budget and other spending he has deemed wasteful.

TRUMP VETOES THE BILL

Trump rejects the bill that passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives and Senate. This would present Congress with two options:

1. Round up the two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate to override Trump's veto before the bill expires, and then it automatically becomes law.

2. Sustain the president's veto, a scenario likely if enough Republicans abandon the legislation, despite their earlier votes for passage. The bill is killed.

TRUMP DOES NOTHING

Trump runs out the clock within 10 calendar days (except Sundays) of receiving it from Congress, neither signing nor vetoing it. The situation is known as a "pocket veto." 

In this case, the calendar works in Trump's favor if he wants to kill the bill. Within that 10-day time frame, the current 116th Congress expires on Jan. 3 and the new, 117th Congress is sworn in. Bills die if they are not enacted during the Congress in which they are introduced.

MSNBC producer criticises spate of Trump pardons amid Congressional crisis

While the stimulus bill and federal funding bills remain unsigned, Trump has used the presidential pardon to excuse a number of close associates from their convictions. 

In recent days the President has granted pardons to his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former adviser Roger Stone, sweeping away the most important convictions from U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.

So far, Trump, who has 27 days left in the White House until President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20, has issued 70 pardons since taking office.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that Trump had talked with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani about pardoning him, citing two people briefed on the matter. The Times also said that Trump has asked advisers about the possibility of “preemptively” pardoning his three eldest children - Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump.

 

Summers: "I don't think $2,000 makes sense"

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has spoken out on the propsed raise to stimulus checks payments, suggesting that such a financial support package should not be the priority. He told Bloomberg that he does not believe that direct payments are the best way to stimulate the economy. 

Summers warns of the risk of "temporary overheating" the economy, arguing for "more assistance to local government, more testing and accelerating vaccine distribution".

Stimulus checks: where do we stand?

On Christmas Eve lawmakers blocked attempts to alter a $2.3 trillion coronavirus aid and government spending package, rejecting President Donald Trump's demand for extensive changes and leaving benefits for millions of Americans at risk.

Democrats in the House of Representatives sought to increase direct payments to Americans included in the bill from $600 to $2,000 per person as part of a coronavirus economic relief initiative, acting on one of Trump's requests. Trump's fellow Republicans, who oppose the higher amount, blocked that effort.

Republicans sought to change the amount of foreign aid included in the package, seeking to address another one of Trump's complaints. Democrats blocked that request.

The flurry of activity on the House floor did nothing to break a standoff that threatens desperately needed assistance for millions of Americans and raises the prospect of a partial government shutdown at a time when officials are trying to distribute vaccines in a country where nearly 320,000 people have died from covid-19.

Vaccine hero Dolly Parton meets the big man

Is there anything country music star, actor and vaccine catalyst Dolly Parton can't do? After playing a part in the most important medical development in years she'd been hanging out with Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, making a few last minute present suggestions. Have a Holly Dolly Christmas. 

'White Christmas' in store for parts of the US this year

It has seemed at points during 2020 that nothing has gone to plan, but some Americans will be ending the year with a rare Christmas treat: A White Christmas. 

Knoxville, Tennesse has experienced a snowy Christmas Eve for the first time in over two decades, according to one Twitter user. Geochemist Dr. Annette Summers Engel took these awesome pictures. 

Christmas message from the Biden canines

A Christmas Eve message from the Biden-Harris transition team puts Champ and Major Biden, the President-elect's dogs, front and centre. After four years without pets in the White House we'll have canine friends back in Washington from next year, for the first time since Bo Obama left in 2016. 

Trump speaks of 'Christmas miracle' in festive message

US President Donald Trump, together with First Lady Melania, delivered their Christmas message with a video on Twitter on Christmas Eve.

Fauci: Up to 90% vaccination required for herd immunity

Herd immunity against the novel coronavirus could require vaccination rates approaching as high as 90%, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the most prominent US infectious disease expert, said in an interview published on Thursday.

More than 1 million Americans have received a first dose of a vaccine since 14 December, according to the CDC, or only about 0.3% of the population. Fauci, who is advising both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden on the pandemic, acknowledged that he had incrementally increased his estimates from earlier in the year, when he tended to say only 60% to 70% would need to be inoculated for herd immunity to be reached. "We need to have some humility here," Fauci told the New York Times. "We really don't know what the real number is. I think the real range is somewhere between 70 to 90 percent. But, I'm not going to say 90 percent." 

Fauci and other experts say social distancing will be required deep into 2021 as vaccines are slowly rolled out. The number of travellers was down from 2019, when 1,937,235 flew on 23 December. Wednesday's traffic exceeded the previous pandemic-era high set on 29 November, the Sunday after the Thanksgiving holiday, when 1,176,091 people passed through TSA checkpoints, preceding new surges in coronavirus cases in many states.

"When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent," Fauci, who turned 80 on Thursday, told the Times. "Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, 'I can nudge this up a bit,' so I went to 80, 85."

CDC reports 325,096 Covid-related deaths in US

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday reported 325,096 deaths from the new coronavirus, an increase of 3,362 from its previous count. The agency said the number of cases had risen by 221,408 to 18,391,571. The CDC reported its tally of cases of the respiratory illness known as Covid-19, caused by a new coronavirus, as of 4 pm ET on Wednesday versus its previous report a day earlier.

Morocco

Pompeo says US began work to set up consulate in Western Sahara

The US State Department said on Thursday it began the process to set up a US consulate in Western Sahara, after President Donald Trump's administration this month recognized Morocco's sovereignty over the region. In a departure from longstanding US policy, Washington agreed to recognize Morocco's sovereignty over the Western Sahara, a desert region where a decades-old territorial dispute has pitted Morocco against the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, a breakaway movement that seeks to establish an independent state.

The recognition was part of a US-brokered deal in which Morocco became the fourth Arab country after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan to normalize ties with Israel in the past four months. "Effective immediately, we are inaugurating a virtual presence post for Western Sahara, with a focus on promoting economic and social development, to be followed soon by a fully functioning consulate," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. "This virtual presence post will be managed by the US Embassy in Rabat," Pompeo said, adding that Washington would be continuing to support  political negotiations  to  resolve  the issues between Morocco and the Polisario within the framework of Morocco's autonomy plan. 

Washington's support for Moroccan sovereignty over the desert territory represents the biggest policy concession the United States has made so far in its quest to win Arab recognition of Israel. The series of normalization deals have been driven in part by US-led efforts to present a united front against Iran and roll back Tehran's regional influence. President-elect Joe Biden, due to succeed Trump on Jan. 20, will face a decision whether to accept the US deal on the Western Sahara, which no other Western nation has done. Western nations and the UN have long called for a referendum to resolve the dispute.

Congressional dispute over stimulus bill continues on Christmas Eve

Any hopes of a covid-19 stimulus package being agreed before Christmas have been quashed, with Republicans and Democrats blaming each other for the delay. Trump has refused to sign the bill unless the stimulus checks were upped to $2,000 but the Republicans have blocked the ammendment. 

ICYMI: Trump pardons former campaign chairman Manafort and associate Roger Stone

President Donald Trump has granted pardons to former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former adviser Roger Stone, sweeping away the most important convictions under the long-running Russia election probe.

Trump also issued a pardon for Charles Kushner, a real estate developer and the father of Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The use of presidential pardons to 'reward' political allies has been criticised by many in recent days, with former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe the latest to do so.

Dem Congressman furious with GOP blockage

Research reveals possible lasting immunity after covid-19 infection

The length of time individuals retain immunity from covid-19 was the focus of a study by Australian scientists, published in the journal 'Science Immunology'. It would represent extremely positive news and suggest that fewer vaccinations would be needed to reach herd immunity.

Congressional GOP block coronavirus aid changes

U.S. lawmakers on Thursday blocked attempts to alter a $2.3 trillion coronavirus aid and government spending package, rejecting President Donald Trump's demand for extensive changes and leaving benefits for millions of Americans at risk.

Democrats in the House of Representatives sought to increase direct payments to Americans included in the bill from $600 to $2,000 per person as part of a coronavirus economic relief initiative, acting on one of Trump's requests. Trump's fellow Republicans, who oppose the higher amount, blocked that effort.

Republicans sought to change the amount of foreign aid included in the package, seeking to address another one of Trump's complaints. Democrats blocked that request.

The flurry of activity on the House floor did nothing to break a standoff that threatens desperately needed assistance for millions of Americans and raises the prospect of a partial government shutdown at a time when officials are trying to distribute vaccines in a country where nearly 320,000 people have died from covid-19.

Seasonal, from Rep. Eric Swalwell of California

Congressman Vela: "I don't know what we're waiting for"

Rep. Filemon Vela of Florida has called on more to be done to get financial support out to the people, with the coronavirus situation expected to worsen before it improves

In a brief speech on Christmas Eve, he said: "For the next three months we are going to be going through America's darkest days. More people getting sick, more people dying". 

Biden transition team posts canine Christmas message

GOP Senator would be "surprised" if they agree to a vote on $2,000 stimulus checks

Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri does not give the Democrats much chance of passing a new stimulus bill that includes $2,000 direct payments. He told a Capitol HIll reporter that he does not expect the Republican-led Senate to vote on it, even if it passes the House. 

When asked about the President's intentions regarding the existing bill, he said: “I have no idea what [Trump] plans to do. I think you'd have to ask him.”

Trumps arrive in Palm Beach for Christmas in Florida

Trumps arrive in Palm Beach for Christmas in Florida

Democrat House leader agrees with Trump

It has often been said that these are unusual times and this may the strongest clue yet. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat, has given a speech in the Capitol calling for Congress to go along with the President's wishes, by providing $2,000 stimulus checks. 

The new stimulus bill has not yet been signed into law by Trump as he waits for a number of ammendments. However it would take a major shift in Congress for the GOP to contenance such a change. 

Republicans in Congress propose $2,000 amendment to stimulus check bill

Congress had passed a covid-19 stimulus bill but after the President's explosive speech on Tuesday progressive lawmakers are pushing for a larger support package.

Christmas excursion takes Trump's presidential golf bill past $150 million

The President has flown down to Florida this Christmas Eve with a new stimulus/funding bill sitting on his desk in Washington. It seems unlikely that the package will now be passed before next week, and government is close to a shutdown due to lack of funding. 

Trump will be spending more time on the golf course at Mar-A-Lago this festive season, taking the total amount of tax-payer money spent on golfing to $150 million during his four years in office. 

Chances of a new stimulus/funding bill signing before Christmas are shrinking

Politico reporter Jake Sherman paints a bleak picture of the state of play in Congress this Christmas Eve. Trump's intervention seems to have scuppered hopes of a new covid relief and federal funding bill being signed, which could see government shut down in a matter of days. 

 

Stimulus check vote to take place on Monday

In recent days there had been suggestions that Congress would vote on ammendments to the stimulus bill today but Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has confirmed that is not the case. Trump had demanded amendments be made to the stimulus bill before he signs it, but it seems unlikely that he will get his wish. 

One of his main priorities was upping the amount of direct support per American to $2,000. But instead of an ammendment that will now have to be made in a separate stand-alone bill, to be put to the House on 28 December. 

Uncertainty in the Captiol over Trump's next move

In a fitting end to his time in office, Trump has left even the most senior Republican guessing as to his next move. The President issued a startling statement on Tuesday night, demanding the coronavirus stimulus bill is changed before he signs it. 

Trump has now left the Capitol to spend Christmas in Florida, leaving Congress to thrash out the details in a final Christmas Eve sitting.

How big will my second stimulus check be? This calculator tells you

How big will my second stimulus check be?

This calculator tells you. Some Americans will get thousands, some will get $100, some will get nothing. Use this calculator to find out how much you will get.

Please note that this is based on the bill passed in Congress this week that includes provision for up to $600 for qualifying Americans. The total is now under discussion again due to Trump demanding larger stimulus checks under threat of a veto, as explained here.

Memes pour in over disappointingly small proposed $600 stimulus

House Democrats planning to attempt to increase stimulus check

Washington Post journalist and other sources say that  House Dems plan to try to plan to pass $2,000 stimulus payment via unanimous consent tomorrow. If that does not work, they will push a bill on Monday to increase the $600 payment in the existing relief package to $2,000.

How do second stimulus check eligibility requirements compare to first payment?

The income eligibility thresholds for the second round of stimulus checks passed on Monday will be very similar to the cut-off points used in the CARES Act.

Full story:

Second stimulus check: who supports a $2,000 payment besides Trump?

Congress had passed a covid-19 stimulus bill but after the President's explosive speech progressive lawmakers are pushing for a larger support package.

Full story:

Trump "coming unhinged" - GOP aide

A Republican aide has told CNN that Donald Trump "is coming unhinged", in the wake of the president’s decision to veto a bipartisan defense bill on Wednesday and his suggestion that he will refuse to sign a $2.3tn federal funding and coronavirus relief bill.

Trump's vetoing of the $740bn annual defense bill is the first time in 59 years that the legislation has not been signed by the US president.

Trump also issued another wave of pardons to friends and allies on Wednesday, with the list of beneficiaries including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, a real estate developer and the father of Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

(Reuters contributed to this post)

Trump

Trump in Florida for Christmas

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida on Wednesday.

President Trump, who has suggested he'll veto the $900bn coronavirus relief bill that features $600 stimulus checks for qualifying Americans, is scheduled to enjoy a 10-day holiday visit at his Mar-a-Lago resort during the last Christmas of his precedency.

(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)

Trump vetoes defense bill amid funding and stimulus package threat

Having hinted he'll refuse to sign the federal funding and coronavirus aid package passed by Congress on Monday, US President Donald Trump vetoed a bipartisan defense policy bill on Wednesday, stirring new turmoil in Washington as he headed to Florida for Christmas.

Trump followed through on a threat to veto the defense bill amid his demands for dramatic changes to a $2.3 trillion package that funds the federal government and provides nearly $900 billion in coronavirus aid.

If Trump blocks the spending package, large parts of the US government will start to shut down next week for lack of funds at a time when officials are distributing two coronavirus vaccines and working to respond to a massive hacking attack.

With less than a month left in office, Trump is angry that some Republicans have acknowledged his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the 3 November election. Biden will be sworn in as president on 20 January.

Trump said he vetoed the defense policy bill, which has passed every year since 1961, because he objected to liability protections for social media companies unrelated to national security and did not want to rename military bases that are currently named for generals who fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the Civil War.

Democrats and Republicans objected to Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act. "I look forward to overriding the President’s fruitless and ridiculous attempt to undermine our national security," Democratic Senator Mark Warner said in a statement.

Republican Senator Jim Inhofe also blasted Trump's veto. "The NDAA has become law every year for 59 years straight because it’s absolutely vital to our national security and our troops," Inhofe said. "This year must not be an exception."

(Reuters)

Trump calls for amendments to stimulus and government funding bill

The President is clearly unhappy with the new coronavirus stimulus and federal funding bill, but after months of negotiations in Congress can he change it at this late stage?

Full story:

"We've found the sweet spot" - GOP congressman against increased stimulus check

Democratic House Representative Josh Gottheimer has stated his support for giving Americans a $2,000 stimulus check. “If it’s about more resources to people, of course we’re there […]. Let’s get it done," the New Jersey congressman told CNN on Wednesday.

However, Tom Reed, a Republican representative from New York, told the same interview he felt an increase to the $600 stimulus-check figure would potentially mean having to reduce the $300 supplementary unemployment benefits also approved on Monday as part of a $900bn coronavirus relief bill.

"[If a $2,000 stimulus check is agreed] then you’re going to have to have a conversation about unemployment," Reed claimed, adding: "We’ve found the sweet spot [in the level of aid provided by stimulus checks and additional unemployment]."

"Let's get it done"

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has voiced her support for the bigger stimulus check proposed by President Trump in response to the approval of a $600 direct payment on Monday. 

"It’s time for leaders in Washington to do the right thing and pass a bipartisan bill that provides $2000 stimulus checks for American families who need them," Whitmer tweeted on Wednesday. Let’s get it done."

$600, $1,200, $2,400... How big will your second stimulus check be?

Although the basic amount provided by the second round of stimulus checks is considerably lower than first time around, they do include more money for households with dependents.

More details:

Relief bill and stimulus check live updates: welcome

Hello and welcome to our dedicated rolling blog on the latest news in the wake of Monday's passing of a $900bn coronavirus relief bill, which includes a $600 second stimulus check for qualifying Americans.

Outgoing US President Donald Trump has branded the stimulus check figure "ridiculously low" and the overall bill a "disgrace", suggesting on Tuesday that he will veto the legislation. It should be noted, however, that it has enough votes in Congress to override such a move.

Trump's call for a higher stimulus-check amount - he wants individuals to receive $2,000 - has led congressional Democrats to urge action on an increased direct payment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeting: "Let's do it!"

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