By Agency Reporter
U.S. Republicans in the House of Representatives blocked outgoing President Donald Trump’s sought-after increase in direct relief cheques for ordinary Americans to $2,000.
This was after Democrats expressed support for Trump’s proposal.
Democrats also paid the Republicans back, by blocking an effort by Republicans to reduce outlays for foreign aid included in the spending package.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Trump to sign the existing bills before Monday to avoid a government shutdown.
She added that Democratic lawmakers would be back at work on Monday on a separate, stand-alone bill to increase direct relief payments to $2,000.
Congress could keep operations running by passing a fourth stopgap funding bill before midnight on Monday.
To successfully do that, lawmakers would need Trump’s cooperation at a time when he is still consumed by his November loss to Democrat Joe Biden, who is set to take office on Jan. 20.
Trump was in Florida, where he was due to play golf on Thursday. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The stopgap bill would not include coronavirus aid, however.
Embittered by his defeat to Biden, Trump is pressing Congress to dramatically alter the package, which passed by wide, bipartisan margins on Monday.
The 5,500-page bill took months to negotiate and was supported by Trump’s administration.
With the status quo unchanged, it was unclear whether Trump would sign the package into law or hold out for further action.
Without his signature, unemployment benefits for those thrown out of work by the pandemic are due to expire as soon as Saturday, and the U.S. government would be forced into a partial shutdown starting on Tuesday.
The House is due to return on Monday to attempt to override Trump’s veto of an unrelated defense-policy bill which, like the coronavirus package, passed Congress by wide, bipartisan margins.
Reported by Reuters.