GOP in Congress, undecided on backing Trump’s $2000 stimulus check demand

Washington, Dec 28 (efe-epa).- Republicans in Congress are facing the dilemma of whether or not to give a green light to bigger direct deposit payments to taxpayers in the stimulus bill signed by President Donald Trump or rebelling against his earlier demand for $2,000 payments to Americans.

The problem facing GOP lawmakers comes with two special Senate elections in Georgia hanging in the balance, elections that will decide which party – Democrat or Republican – holds the majority in the upper house.

Late on Monday, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on increasing the size of the direct payments to Americans from $600 to $2,000, something that Republicans generally oppose saying that it will markedly increase the budget deficit, but which Trump demanded last week in a bid to put his own stamp on the stimulus package and the bill allocating operational funding to the US government.

It is not clear whether the proposal to increase the size of the checks will be supported in the Senate, where the GOP is in the majority.

On Sunday, Trump signed the bill, known as an omnibus bill, valued at $2.3 trillion to help alleviate the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic and to provide funding for the administration’s operations through September 2021.

After five days of refusing to sign the bill, which had been approved by both congressional chambers last week, Trump backed away from that stance, apparently to avoid having the government run out of money on Monday night, a situation that would have denied paychecks to hundreds of thousands of federal employees.

The president signed the bill, emphasizing at the time that he hoped that Congress would approve the $2,000 payments and saying in a statement that the Senate would begin the process of voting on increasing those checks.

For days, the president had said that he opposed the bill – which his treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, helped to negotiate and which contains numerous White House budget priorities – because it did not provide enough to Americans in terms of direct deposit payments. Trump called the $600 stimulus payments “ridiculously low.”

On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell limited himself to thanking Trump for signing the bill and did not mention whether any vote would be held in the Senate to make changes to the bill.

Despite the fact that the Democrats on Monday intend to bring the $2,000 change to a vote in the House, the move has little chance of success because of the strong opposition of Senate Republicans, but the move will likely go forward to force the conservatives to take a position against the payment hike and challenge Trump, something that could have a negative impact on the election chances of the GOP Senate candidates in Georgia.

If the Democrats manage to win both races there, this would shift control of the Senate to their party, wresting it from the GOP and giving Democrats a clear path to enact progressive legislation that could reverse many of the conservative moves pushed through during Trump’s presidency.

If the House vote succeeds on Monday, the altered bill would be voted on on Tuesday in the Senate, where Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has said that no member of his party there will oppose the increase.

Be that as it may, after Trump’s signing of the bill, political attention in the US is focusing on Georgia, where a bitter battle is being waged over the two Senate seats – currently held by Republicans, but which have a decent chance of flipping to the Democrats, just as the state of Georgia did in the Nov. 3, presidential vote.

The vote in those elections comes on Jan. 5, and the day before the balloting Trump is scheduled to appear at a rally in Dalton, Georgia, to back the two GOP candidates – David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler – who are running for reelection, in one of his last chances to display his influence over his party and politics in general while still president.

Democrat Joe Biden will be inaugurated as president on Jan. 20, 2021.

Both parties have been using the negotiations on the stimulus package to make political points in Georgia with the Democrats hoping that Trump’s erratic behavior alienates Republican voters who have suffered economically during the pandemic.

In remarks to CNN on Monday, Democratic ex-gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said that the rescue package was not only coming rather late in the day but was also insufficiently generous.

She said that the country needs two senators from Georgia who are ready to go to Washington and cooperate with Biden to bring real aid to citizens of their state amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the online Politico magazine, Perdue – along with Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Sen. Lindsey Graham – was one of the conservatives who tried to convince Trump in recent days to sign the stimulus bill to avoid a government shutdown and the expiration of unemployment loans.

As far as Republicans are concerned, their control of the Senate and thus their political clout with the incoming Democratic administration hinges on retaining at least one of the Georgia Senate seats.

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