After President Trump signaled he may not sign the $900 billion stimulus deal and demanded larger stimulus checks, key Democrats are getting ready to put his idea up for a vote on Thursday.
“Mr. President, sign the bill to keep government open! Urge McConnell and McCarthy to agree with the Democratic unanimous consent request for $2,000 direct payments!” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in a tweet on Wednesday morning. “This can be done by noon on Christmas Eve!”
Pelosi was quick to respond to the president’s demand, saying “at last, the President has agreed to $2,000” on Tuesday evening. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) joined in, too, saying they already had the provision the president demands in a bill, co-written by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and it’s “ready to go.”
“Glad to see the President is willing to support our legislation,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet on Tuesday evening. “We can pass $2k checks this week if the Senate GOP agrees to stand down.”
In a video posted on his Twitter account on Tuesday, President Trump criticized the stimulus checks under the current legislation and asked Congress to amend the bill to “increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple.” The direct payments are up to $600 per individual and $600 per child under the bill.
The final $900 billion stimulus deal passed both chambers of Congress on Monday night with overwhelming support, with the Senate voting 92-to-6 to pass it and the House voting 359-to-53. Around $166 billion of the package will be used for the second round of direct payments.
President Trump surprised Congressional negotiators after the bill passed by specifying a desired amount on stimulus checks.
“In the bipartisan negotiations, Leader Schumer and I repeatedly asked Republicans what would be the highest number the President would accept for direct payments, and they responded with Sphinx-like silence,” Pelosi said in a statement on Wednesday. “In the negotiations, they would never go above $600 and in some cases, proposed $500.”
‘It will inflict a lot of damage’
The president didn’t say whether he’ll veto the bill, which would then require a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress for the bill to become law. Complicating matters is that the bill is attached to another piece of legislation to keep the government funded. If Trump doesn’t sign the conjoined pair, the government faces a potential shutdown on Dec. 28.
Another possibility is if the president doesn't get the printed bill by end of Wednesday, he can “pocket veto” the bill by simply not signing the legislation within 10 days. Congress cannot override that type of veto. But if Congress remains in session during that 10-day period and Trump doesn't sign the legislation, the bill becomes law without the president’s signature. The last pocket veto occurred in December 2000, during President Clinton’s final weeks in office.
“Trump can pocket veto the omnibus either as the 116th Congress ends or the day before,” Mark Harkins, a former congressional staffer and senior fellow at Georgetown’s Government Affairs Institute, told Yahoo Money. “If the day before, someone in the Senate can filibuster and run the clock out until 12:00 noon on Jan. 3.”
If a deal isn’t signed by the president in the coming days, up to 12 million Americans will lose unemployment benefits coverage when two programs enacted under the CARES Act expire on December 26. The federal eviction moratorium, paid sick leave, aid to state and local governments, among other relief, also will lapse.
“Chaos is bad for the country and it will inflict a lot of damage on people and probably make many of them very mad,” Aaron Fritschner, communications director for Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), told Yahoo Money.