On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump suggested that he would veto the stimulus bill that Congress passed late Monday night, rejecting parts of the omnibus and demanding that the direct relief payments be raised from $600 to $2,000 per person.
His 4-minute speech, which he posted on Twitter, was riddled with xenophobia and unmerited attacks on Democrats. Though the bill’s text contained some minor wins for Democrats, it also included the same for Republicans and was a truly mixed bag. Toward the end of his speech, Trump suggests that he’s going to send the bill back to Congress and demands that the “ridiculously low” $600 stimulus checks be increased to $2,000.
“Despite all of this wasteful spending and much more, the $900 billion package provides hardworking taxpayers with only $600 each in relief payments,” he said. “I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package.” He goes on to suggest without merit, or the backing of his own party, that maybe he would remain president.
His extended stay in the White House isn’t the only thing that his fellow Republicans would disagree with. Throughout the negotiations for the most recent stimulus passed on Monday, as for the CARES Act, the biggest opposition to the $600 and $1,200 stimulus checks, respectively, has come from members of Trump’s own party.
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In fact, many within his party don’t just object to the amount — they reject the payments altogether. Senators like Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) and David Perdue (R-Georgia) have all come out against the direct relief checks, citing spurious concerns about austerity and government spending. There have been ever more Republicans who haven’t necessarily objected to the checks specifically, but also to the entire idea of the stimulus itself. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) stood in scant company and voted against the bill, while Rand Paul said that any conservative who voted for the stimulus would “lose [their] soul.”
It was only very late in the negotiations that the $600 checks were added to the bill that Congress passed on Monday; the addition appears to have been hard-fought. Republicans only hopped on because of a dual effort by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, working on behalf of Trump, and McConnell, who only changed his mind about the checks because he was worried about the Georgia Senate runoffs. (Progressives like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have also been fighting hard for the inclusion of the stimulus checks throughout the entire pandemic.)
The prevailing motivation for much of the party’s actions lately has been to help their chances in the Georgia runoffs, as their result in January will determine which party controls the Senate. Though it’s true that Trump has been trying to get checks added for a while, it’s entirely possible, if not probable, that considering how popular the stimulus checks are among the electorate, his motive has always been to boost the election results. The $2,000 may be a last ditch effort to help his party, since he was only calling for $1,200 in October.
It’s unclear what will happen with the bill going forward. It was passed with enough Congressional votes to override a veto, though Trump has not yet vetoed it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed with Trump’s call for $2,000 checks on Tuesday night and is planning to bring the increased check amounts to a vote soon — an easy and swift process since Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Wisconsin) have already co-written the amendment for it. Ocasio-Cortez indicated there is wide support among Democrats, saying on Twitter that Congress could “pass $2k checks this week if the Senate GOP agrees to stand down.” The measure will be brought by unanimous consent, which means it will only take one lawmaker to shoot it down. If these months have shown anything, that lawmaker will probably come from the Republican Party.