April 24, 2024
A medical worker in Rome administers a Covid-19 swab test on December 19.

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Dusk falls over the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on December 21.
Dusk falls over the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on December 21. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

The House of Representatives on Thursday failed to advance a measure that would increase direct payments to Americans under a certain income level to $2,000 — up from the $600 level passed earlier this week — bringing lawmakers back to square one as they search for a way to appease President Trump’s demands.

House Democrats tried to quickly pass the bill by a unanimous consent request Thursday morning, but Republicans rejected the move, leaving the future of the $900 billion stimulus package — and whether any changes will be added to it — in doubt.

That stimulus package was attached to a spending bill for the entire federal government, and a deadline for government funding expires Monday at midnight.

What comes next: Democrats will now move to pass the bill on the floor with a full up-or-down vote on Dec. 28, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced.

“Hopefully by then the President will have already signed the bipartisan and bicameral legislation to keep government open and to deliver coronavirus relief,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Some context: Earlier this week, Congress passed the massive Covid-19 relief bill, which included up to $600 payments to all Americans making under certain income levels.

Single people who earn up to $75,000 would receive the full $600 direct payment, and couples earning up to $150,000 would receive $1,200.

But on Tuesday, Trump signaled he wouldn’t sign the bill if Congress doesn’t amend the legislation and raise the “ridiculously low” $600 stimulus checks to $2,000 or $4,000 per couple.

“If the President is serious about the $2,000 direct payments, he must call on House Republicans to end their obstruction,” Pelosi said.

Republicans countered the Democratic effort Thursday with a proposal to strip out a piece of the spending package that included foreign aid — an area Trump attacked after Congress cleared the bill. Those provisions, however, were largely in line with Trump’s own budget request and were supported by the vast majority of Republicans. That effort was rejected by Democrats.