On the eve of Christmas Eve, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finds himself in a bit of a political jam over a recently passed $900 Million Covid relief bill that includes $600 direct payments to American citizens hit hard by a U.S. economy cratered by the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday evening, President Donald Trump posted a video to his Twitter feed that derided the bipartisan approved bill. While he didn’t pledge to veto, he announced that the would not sign the bill in its current state and instead is sending it back asking for it to include $2000 direct payment to each citizen and $4000 per couple. And a funny thing happened since that video posted: President Trump found immediate support from Democratic leadership.
To be clear, Democratic leadership introduced $2,000 stimulus checks in late Spring of 2020. But shortly after Trump tweeted the video, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi showed support in President Trump’s idea by quote-tweeted the video, adding, “Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!”
Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks. At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it! https://t.co/Th4sztrpLV
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) December 23, 2020
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez co-wrote an amendment to the Covid Relief bill to include the $2,000 payment to American citizens with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a tweet of which found immediate support by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “I’m in,” Schumer wrote. “Whaddya say Mitch? Let’s not get bogged down with ideological offsets and unrelated items and just DO THIS!”
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) December 23, 2020
By all accounts, President Trump was largely uninvolved in negotiations for Covid relief, leaving the discussions to Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin. Trump likely could have gotten $2,000 stimulus checks into a bill had he been involved earlier in the process.
The bipartisan negotiations for the second round of relief were predictably hamstrung by the presidential election, which occurred on November 3rd. Still, even after that was complete, it took Congressional leadership from both parties nearly two months to arrive at the bill passed Tuesday afternoon.
As Politico’s Jake Sherman described the current state of inside the beltway politics, “we are in the beginnings of a full-blown legislative crisis.”
We are in the beginnings of a full-blown legislative crisis. It’s two days before Christmas. Congress is home. We’re in a pandemic. Unemployment insurance runs out on Saturday. Govt shuts down Monday. And the president is suggesting he’ll blow up a bipartisan bill to avert this.
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) December 23, 2020
It is not clear how this will play out politically, but President Trump has presented a significant political challenge for McConnell to navigate just days before Christmas.
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