US House approves higher relief checks

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The Democratic-led US House of Representatives voted 275-134 to meet President Donald Trump’s demand for $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks on Monday, sending the measure on to an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate.

But even as Democrats helped secure approval for what the Republican president sought on stimulus payments, they spearheaded a House vote just a short time later to override his veto of a separate $740 billion defence policy bill. The rebuke, in Trump’s final weeks in office, would be the first veto override of his presidency if seconded by the Senate this week, reports Reuters.

Trump last week threatened to block a massive pandemic aid and spending package if Congress did not boost stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000 and cut other spending. He backed down from his demands on Sunday as a possible government shutdown loomed, brought on by the fight with lawmakers.

But Democratic lawmakers have long wanted $2,000 relief checks and used the rare point of agreement with Trump to advance the proposal – or at least to put Republicans on record against it – in the vote on Monday, less than a month before he leaves office.

SPENDING AND CORONAVIRUS AID PACKAGE

The 275 votes for passage meant the stimulus proposal narrowly exceeded the two-thirds of votes cast needed. A total of 130 Republicans, two independents and two Democrats opposed the increased checks on Monday.

Trump, who lost November’s election to Democratic challenger Joe Biden but has refused to concede defeat, finally signed the $2.3 trillion package into law after holding it up with a veiled veto threat. But he continued demanding $2,000 checks.

The $2.3 trillion includes $1.4 trillion in spending to fund government agencies and $892 billion in COVID-19 relief.

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