The House Just Voted to Increase COVID Stimulus Checks to $2,000

But the measure looks doomed in the Republican-controlled Senate.
December 28, 2020, 11:11pm
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, walks to her office from the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020. ​
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, walks to her office from the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020. (Photographer: Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Democratic-controlled House passed legislation Monday evening that could increase direct COVID stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000. 

That is, if Senate Republicans don’t kill it first.

The House vote, which sailed through the chamber with 275 yeas and 134 nays, comes just a day after President Donald Trump signed a new $900 billion coronavirus relief bill into law, ending a monthslong stalemate between Democrats and Republicans over how to best help the teetering economy deep into a pandemic that has killed over 300,000 Americans.

Advertisement

The president took five days to sign the coronavirus relief bill because he claimed to want bigger direct payments to Americans: $2,000 rather than the $600 negotiated with Congress by his own administration. That delay allowed the two unemployment relief programs to expire, possibly interrupting benefits for 14 million jobless Americans.

The House vote presents Senate Republicans with a conundrum: back their president’s request for $2,000 or stick to their guns and reject it, keeping the deal they negotiated, that was endorsed by Trump’s own Treasury secretary.

In a speech over the weekend, Trump called the bill a “disgrace,” calling out aid to “lobbyists and special interests” while demanding higher stimulus checks.    

“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000,” he said in a speech Tuesday. 

The president’s claims were immediately embraced by House Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who tweeted, “Let’s do it!” 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not yet commented on whether he’d support the House’s newly-passed direct payment legislation, but the ongoing Senate runoff races in Georgia put increased pressure on the Kentucky Republican to support the last-minute measure.

On Monday, two Democrats defied their party in voting against the increased payments: Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader and Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski.

Advertisement

Overall, though, Democrats chastised the GOP for not wanting to embrace the change.

“Senate Republicans: Enough is enough,” New York Sen. Chuck Schumer tweeted Monday. “Americans need this help now.”

“If conservatives are suddenly so concerned with the cost of the bill, maybe they should focus on stripping their cushy tax giveaways for 3-martini lunches and thoroughbred racehorses instead of blocking critical support for working people,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted

After the House passed the bill Monday evening, Sen. Schumer said he would move to bring it to the Senate, adding it could be “approved tomorrow if no Republicans block it.”

“There’s strong support for these $2,000 emergency checks from every corner of the country -- Leader McConnell ought to make sure Senate Republicans do not stand in the way of helping to meet the needs of American workers and families who are crying out for help.”

If passed, all individual taxpayers who make less than $75,000, families who make less than $112,500 and joint filers earning less than $150,000 will receive the one-time check of $2,000.