By Mimi Nguyen Ly
The House of Representatives voted late on Dec. 28 to amend the COVID-19 relief bill to boost direct payments to Americans to $2,000 from $600.
A two-thirds majority was required to pass the bill. It passed the Democratic-majority House in a 275–134 vote; the measure now heads to the Republican-majority Senate for consideration.
The move comes after President Donald Trump used the Impoundment Control Act of 1974 to increase the stimulus payment amount to $2,000 and remove what he called “wasteful spending” from the relief bill.
“As President, I have told Congress that I want far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child,” Trump wrote in a White House statement late on Dec. 27.
The Impoundment Control Act of 1974 allows the president to make demands to Congress, although Congress ultimately decides whether they will accept his demands and any rescissions and vote on them.
Trump signaled that he would invoke the act on Dec. 27, writing, “I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed.
“I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill,” he added. “I am signing this bill to restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for small business loans, return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more.”
The House and the Senate on Dec. 21 had passed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill following at least six months of back-and-forth negotiations. The measure advanced alongside a $1.4 trillion annual federal spending package to keep the federal government funded for another year.
Trump has been constantly urging Congress to pass a measure to counter the effects of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic. He responded to the $900 billion COVID-19 bill late on Dec. 22, saying that he might not sign off on it unless Congress amended the bill to increase the “ridiculously low” $600 in direct payments to Americans to $2,000.
He also said that the bill didn’t provide enough economic aid for small businesses, which have been hit hard as a result of pandemic-related restrictions.
“Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists, and special interests while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it,” Trump said in a video recorded in the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room. He also pointed out that the bill allows stimulus checks for the family members of illegal aliens, amounting to up to $1,800 each.
The president in October called for a “stand alone bill” that would provide direct payments of $1,200 to Americans.
“I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening, Nancy?” he wrote on Twitter at the time.
The House on late Monday also voted to override Trump’s veto of a defense spending bill, the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.
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