Dec. 28 (UPI) — Less than a day after President Donald Trump signed the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, the House passed a measure Monday to increase direct stimulus payments to Americans to $2,000 each from $600.
The legislation — called the Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help, or CASH Act — passed in a 275-134 floor vote brought by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Monday’s vote sends the measure to the Republican-held Senate.
In a statement Sunday, House Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he was “glad the American people will receive this much-needed assistance” after Trump signed the bill that included the $600 payments.
But McConnell did not comment on the Senate taking up the $2,000 payment bill if passed by the House.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said he planned to block a vote to override Trump’s veto of a defense funding bill until the chamber votes on the stimulus measure.
“This week on the Senate floor, Mitch McConnell wants to vote to override Trump’s veto of the $740 billion defense funding bill and then head home for the New Year,” Sanders wrote on Twitter.
“I’m going to object until we get a vote on legislation to provide a $2,000 direct payment to the working class.”
The newly signed relief measure, as it currently stands, provides only $600 payments to most Americans, but Trump delayed signing the bill for days over a multitude of complaints, including his desire to raise the amount to $2,000.
A bid by House Democrats on Thursday to get unanimous consent for the raised amount was blocked by House Republican leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, forcing Monday’s vote.
“The signing of the bipartisan, bicameral coronavirus relief legislation is welcome news for the 14 million Americans who just lost the lifeline of unemployment benefits on Christmas weekend, and for the millions more struggling to stay afloat during this historic pandemic and economic crisis,” Pelosi said in a statement Sunday.
“We need to ensure robust support for state and local government to distribute and administer a vaccine, keep workers employed and prevent devastating service cuts — and we must do so as soon as possible.
“Now, the president must immediately call on congressional Republicans to end their obstruction and to join him and Democrats in support of our standalone legislation to increase direct payment checks to $2,000.
“Every Republican vote against this bill is a vote to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny the American people the relief they need.”
This time, the prospect of increasing the stimulus amount received more Republican support, as Rep. Tom Reed of New York, declared before the vote that he would support the increase.
“The American people are hurting,” Reed, co-chair of the bipartisan “Problem Solvers” group of about 50 lawmakers, said in a statement.
“Economic stagnation and lockdowns have left many in difficult financial situations. I’ve communicated to the president my support for his directive to increase the total size of stimulus checks to $2,000 per individual and will be voting in favor of the CASH Act tomorrow to do so,” the statement said.
The new round of stimulus payments will go to most Americans who earned less than $75,000 last year. The amount will gradually decrease by $5 for every $100 earned over the income threshold.
The president last week called the relief package and attached omnibus spending bill a “disgrace,” even though Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was Trump’s point man for months in the negotiations with House Democrats for what ultimately became the aid package.
The spending bill, like the relief measure, was also signed Sunday night and will fund the federal government until October.