Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty
UPDATE, DEC 26:
Expanded unemployment benefits, covering millions of Americans during the Coronavirus pandemic, expire today because of Donald Trump’s inaction and threat of a veto of a $900 billion relief bill.
Congress passed the legislation on Monday night, but Trump denounced the measures and the wider 5,593-page Government funding bill. With no action by Trump, the Government will shut on Monday, the fourth closure during his time in office.
Under a $2.2 trillion relief bill last March, unemployed Americans could claim $300 each week on top of the usual state benefit.
After seven months of blocking a follow-up measure, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell worked with Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to complete the $900 billion interim legislation. However, Trump slammed the bill as a “disgrace”.
He did suggest raising one-off payments to millions of Americans from $600 to $2,000. However, when Pelosi embraced the rise, House Republicans blocked Democrat attempts to include the revised proposal in the relief bill.
States cannot pay out expanded benefits until Congress overrides a Trump veto or if he does nothing, forcing the new Congress which begins in early January to restart the legislative process.
The White House flew the entire Government funding bill to Trump at his Florida resort on Wednesday night. But he spent Christmas Day playing golf and, he said, “making many calls”.
He tweeted, “Why would politicians not want to give people $2000, rather than only $600? It wasn’t their fault, it was China. Give our people the money!”
But he said nothing about the other provisions of the relief package — including the unemployment benefits, loans to small businesses, and assistance for schools and vaccine distribution — or Government funding.
ORIGINAL ENTRY, DEC 25: House Republicans have blocked an effort by Democrats to increase one-off payments in a Coronavirus relief bill from $600 to $2,000.
The provision was part of the bipartisan $900 billion legislation passed on Monday night by both chambers of Congress.
But Donald Trump, desperately trying to overturn his election defeat, threatened on Tuesday to veto the bill. Amid his objections, he said that the payment to millions of Americans should be raised.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seized the opportunity, “Let’s go for it.”
However, GOP members of the House repeatedly blocked any advance on Thursday.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat, sought approval by unanimous consent, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Pelosi said after the session, “If the President is serious about the $2,000 direct payments, he must call on House Republicans to end their obstruction.”
The Democrats will try again on Monday.
The relief package is part of a 5,593-page Government funding bill. If Trump casts his veto —- or refuses to sign —- the Government will shut on Monday, the fourth closure during Trump’s time in office. Millions of Americans will not get unemployment benefits.
The US death toll is now 329,118. There are 18,657,618 confirmed cases.