The House voted on Monday evening to increase the size of stimulus checks to $2,000, meaning the fate of the higher payments now rests with the Senate.
The vote came a day after President Donald Trump finally signed off on a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package that he threw into doubt last week after declaring it a “disgrace” and unexpectedly demanding that direct payments be raised from $600 to $2,000.
Democrats, who pushed for higher individual payments during the months of negotiations on the package, have jumped at the opportunity to force Senate Republicans into backing the higher payments or defy the president.
In remarks on Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “The president of the United States has put this forth as something that he wants to see and part of his signing the legislation yesterday. I hope that view will be shared by the Republicans in the Senate, because we will pass this bill today.
“Republicans have a choice: vote for this legislation or vote to deny the American people the bigger paychecks this need. To reject this would be in denial of the economic challenges that people are facing and it would deny them, again, the relief they need.”
In a rare Christmas Eve session, House Republicans had blocked Trump’s demand for bigger checks.
But on Monday, 44 Republicans backed the legislation—the Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help (CASH) Act—which passed by a vote of 275-134, after getting the required two-thirds majority by just three votes.
After the tally, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement that he would move to pass the legislation in the Senate on Tuesday, adding that there was “no good reason” for Senate Republicans to block the higher payments.
“Every Senate Democrat is for this much-needed increase in emergency financial relief, which can be approved tomorrow if no Republican blocks it—there is no good reason for Senate Republicans to stand in the way,” Schumer said. “There’s strong support for these $2,000 emergency checks from every corner of the country.”
Schumer also called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to ensure 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.”
After days of uncertainty, Trump signed the COVID-19 relief and a $1.4 trillion government spending package into law, narrowly averting a federal government shutdown.
As well as $600 stimulus checks, the coronavirus relief bill will deliver a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit as well as additional funding for struggling businesses. It also extends eviction protections with a new rental assistance fund.
After signing the bill on Sunday night, Trump said in a statement that the Senate would “start the process for a vote” on legislation that would increase direct payments.
“Much more money is coming,” Trump said. “I will never give up my fight for the American people!”
In a tweet early Tuesday, the president wrote: “Give the people $2000, not $600. They have suffered enough!”
Still, it is not clear if Senate Republicans, who resisted raising the amount of stimulus checks, will support it.
McConnell applauded Trump’s signing of the relief bill and federal spending package in a statement on Sunday, but didn’t mention the president’s remarks about $2,000 payments.