Democrats in the U.S. Congress on Monday will try to push through higher pandemic relief payments of $2,000 for Americans after President Donald Trump backed down from a fight with lawmakers that could have shut down the federal government.
In a sudden reversal late on Sunday, Trump signed into law a $2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending package, restoring unemployment benefits to millions of Americans and providing funds to keep government agencies running.
The Republican president last week had demanded that Congress change it to boost stimulus payments for struggling Americans from $600 to $2,000 while also cutting other spending.
It was unclear why Trump, who leaves office on Jan. 20 after losing November’s election to Democratic challenger Joe Biden, retreated from his threat to block the bill, which was approved by Congress last week.
Global markets were buoyed after Trump signed the massive spending measure and backed away from a year-end government spending crisis. Wall Street’s main indexes hit record highs on Monday as Trump’s signing of the aid bill bolstered bets on an economic recovery and drove gains in financial and energy stocks.
Democratic lawmakers who have a majority in the House of Representatives and have long wanted $2,000 relief checks, hope to use a rare point of agreement with Trump to advance the proposal - or at least put Republicans on record against it - in a vote on Monday.
Voting is expected to start late in the afternoon, and to run into the evening. Lawmakers will also seek to override Trump’s recent veto of a $740-billion bill setting policy for the Defense Department. If successful, that would be the first veto override of Trump’s presidency.
Trump played golf in Florida on Monday and has remained out of public view even as a government crisis loomed.
Meanwhile, Biden is expected to deliver brief remarks at around 3:30 p.m. (2030 GMT) after being briefed by members of the national security and foreign policy teams he has assigned to manage his administration’s transition.
Many of Trump’s fellow Republicans, who control the Senate, oppose the higher relief payments, and Trump may not have the influence to budge them.
Georgia Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who face crucial Senate runoffs next month that could determine who controls the chamber, welcomed Trump’s move, without saying whether the payments should be increased.
REUTERS, 28TH DECEMBER, 2020