WASHINGTON: Senators rejected efforts to amend a $2.3 trillion programme of coronavirus assistance and federal spending, resisting the appeal of US President Donald Trump for significant improvements and leaving benefits at risk for millions of Americans.
In the sense of a coronavirus economic relief plan, Democrats in the House of Representatives attempted to increase direct payments to Americans included in the bill from $600 to $2,000 per person, acting on one of Trump’s demands. But the effort has been thwarted by Trump’s fellow Republicans, who condemn the higher number.
Republicans tried to adjust the amount of international assistance contained in the deal, trying to resolve one of Trump’s other concerns. The appeal was blocked by Democrats.
The flurry of action on the floor of the House has done little to crack a standoff that threatens millions of Americans with urgently needed aid and poses the risk of a partial government shutdown at a time when authorities are struggling to administer vaccinations in a world where Covid-19 has killed almost 320,000 people.
Embittered by his defeat to Democrat Joe Biden, Trump urged Congress in a surprising move on Tuesday to radically amend the coronavirus and government-spending package that passed Monday by large, bipartisan margins.
On Thursday, Trump was in Florida playing golf. A call for comment was not received by the White House. It took months to negotiate the 5,500-page bill and the White House had said earlier that it would be signed into law by Trump.
With the status quo unchanged, it was unclear whether Trump would sign the package into law or hold out for further action.
Unless Trump signed the package into law, unemployment insurance will expire starting on Saturday for around 14 million Americans and the US government will be plunged into a partial shutdown beginning on Tuesday.
As with grants to cash-strapped states implementing the vaccination rollout, new stimulus cheques, which could go out as soon as next week, will be postponed.
Instead of being extended for another month, a ban on tenant evictions will expire on Dec. 31. The standoff comes as U.S. economy is slowing in the face of the raging pandemic.
By passing a fourth stopgap spending bill before midnight on Monday, the p/’HOW IRONIC ‘Congress could keep operations going. To do so effectively, at a time when he is overwhelmed with his fight to stay in office after Jan. 20, policymakers will require Trump’s help. The stopgap bill does not, though, provide coronavirus assistance.
The $892 billion coronavirus assistance package, many Democrats argue, is not big enough to counter the pandemic, and they have supported Trump’s call for larger stimulus controls.
“At a news conference, House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer said, “How ironic it would be to close down the federal government in a moment of pandemic crisis, the very time when social services are needed the most.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday the chamber will hold a vote on the stimulus-check raise.