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House passes $2,000 stimulus checks but Senate fate unclear

The House of Representatives voted Monday to give most Americans $2,000 COVID-19 stimulus checks, but the bill may still die in the Senate.

Most Democrats and 44 Republicans supported the five-page CASH Act that President Trump requested last week. Two Democrats, 130 Republicans and both independents opposed it.

The bill would increase stimulus payments to $2,000 per adult — up from $600 in a $2.3 trillion package that Trump signed Sunday.

Some conservatives bristled at the increase, saying it would heap an estimated $463 billion onto the national debt and increase inflation.

The legislation required a two-thirds majority because it was considered under an expedited procedure. It narrowly cleared the threshold.

Democratic Rep. Tom Sozzi, whose Long Island district includes part of Queens, said, “outside of this Beltway fantasy land, millions of Americans are desperately pleading for help.”

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) said, “It’s never too late to do the right thing. President Trump stood up.”

Republicans who supported the larger checks cited the severe effects of the pandemic. Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), said in a statement, “It is only fair that we act decisively now to deliver the comprehensive relief individuals desperately need.”

But many Republicans and some Democrats said the checks were too large.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, said it would be wise to pause and “assess the impact of vaccinations” that began this month.

“Looking at this bill today, it makes me feel like we’re in the parliament of Afghanistan, Burundi, Yemen or Bolivia. Do we really think the way to improve the quality of life for Americans is to just print more money?” said Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.).

Rep Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) said, “this free money doesn’t come from heaven. It comes from the future earnings are those who will be struggling to get back on their feet.”

A Democrat, Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, said “it is clearly a last-minute political maneuver by the president and extremists on both sides of the political spectrum who have been largely absent during months of very hard negotiations.”

Trump on Sunday signed the $2.3 trillion package of pandemic relief and government funding measures, removing pressure on Senate Republicans to pass larger stimulus checks. House Democrats also have less pressure to strike billions in foreign aid.

On Tuesday, Trump objected to the delicately brokered deal, saying the stimulus checks should be $2,000 and that funds for other countries should be reduced.

House Republicans blocked an effort by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to pass the more generous checks on Thursday by unanimous consent. Republicans said Pelosi selectively heard Trump’s objections and should have revisited foreign aid too.

It’s unclear if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will allow a floor vote on the $2,000 checks before Jan. 3, when the legislative session ends.

McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The House-passed legislation would means-test the payments. People earning more than $75,000 per year would get less money and people who earn more than $95,000 would get nothing.

For married couples filing taxes jointly, the checks would decrease for income over $150,000 and would zero-out at $190,000 in joint income.

The bill that Trump signed Sunday creates a new $300 weekly supplement for unemployed people and adds $284 billion in Paycheck Protection Program forgivable small business loans. It also authorized $600 stimulus checks per child.

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