CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

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.

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

Discussions over the coronavirus relief bill appeared to have finally reached a conclusion last weekend as a deal was struck in Congress. On Monday both the House of Representatives and the Senate voted in favour of the legislative package that would see a $900 billion stimulus bill passed, alongside a routine $1.4 trillion federal funding bill.

However that was all thrown into doubt on Tuesday evening when President Trump issued a startling statement, demanding that the stimulus checks be upped to $2,000. Having dropped that bombshell, Trump has now left the White House to spend his Christmas in Florida.

With the President seemingly uninterested in following through on his late intervention, who is left in the Capitol to push for the larger amount?

Progressives in Congress lead the charge for $2,000 stimulus checks

Although the original bill was passed quite comprehensively in the votes earlier this week, the decision was not unanimous. In total, 59 lawmakers across both Houses voted against the bill; some arguing that is was insufficient, while some thought it was actually too generous.

One of the more vocal opponents was Democratic Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, who criticism the bill for offering “only scraps for those struggling to pay food rent and healthcare.” She voted against the package on Monday and in the aftermath of Trump’s comments she proposed an amendment which would see the stimulus check provision changed from $600 per person, to $2,000 per person.

She proposed the amendment with fellow Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who had initially voted in favour of the bill to ensure that Americans get some financial support before the end of the year. With that now thrown into doubt more progressive voices are supporting the change.

Senator Bernie Sanders has also called for the $2,000 stimulus checks to be included in the bill. He had initially called for a repeat of the $1,200 checks provided in the CARES Act but now that Trump has opened the possibility of a larger amount there is growing support for that level of direct payment.

Democratic leaders in Congress to push Christmas Eve amendment

Six days after Congress was supposed to break for Christmas there is still major business to be settled and both Houses will sit on Christmas Eve. The festive recess has been a feature of American democracy since the 1850s but party leaders in Congress still have major Congressional battles to fight.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is eager to see the new amendment passed today, tweeting her support for the Tlaib – AOC legislation. She had repeatedly called for $1,200 stimulus checks during the months of negotiations but had been forced to settle for $600 after having multiple bills dismissed by the Senate.

Likewise, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is happy with the potential $2,000 of direct support to Americans, having previously called for that amount during talks. It would be a major coup for the Democrats if they can force this over the line but the GOP-led Senate has refused to offer stimulus checks of this size throughout negotiations so far.