US COVID aid at risk as legislators block Trump changes

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Republicans and Democrats in the US House of Representatives have blocked attempts to change a $ 2.3 trillion coronavirus aid and government spending package, leaving its status in doubt after President Donald Trump called for sweeping changes to the law.

After months of political strife, the US Congress on Monday overwhelmingly approved a $ 892 billion bill on emergency aid for coronavirus. It includes a one-time payment of $ 600 to individuals to help them cope with a pandemic-backed US economy.

The support was linked to $ 1.4 trillion in funding to keep the federal government in operation this fiscal year ending September 30, 2021.

But despite expectations, Trump hinted on Tuesday that he might veto the giant legislation if direct payments were not raised to $ 2,000 per tonne. Person, and if a number of unrelated public spending projects, including foreign aid, did not become jettison. Trump did not explicitly say he would veto the bill in its current form.

Democrats on Thursday tried to increase payments to Americans to the $ 2,000 per person requested by Trump, but the president’s colleagues, who oppose the higher amount, blocked the effort.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump left Washington for Florida on Wednesday [Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

Republicans then moved to change the amount of foreign aid included in the package and sought to address a separate Trump complaint. Democrats blocked this request. Parliament then postponed the day.

House President Nancy Pelosi said the chamber is holding a registered vote on the increase in stimulus control on Monday.

The activity on the floor of the house did nothing to break a standoff that threatens the desperate need for help of millions of Americans and raises the prospect of a partial shutdown of the government at a time when officials are trying to distribute two coronavirus vaccines.

The way forward, including efforts to avert a shutdown or perhaps even pass a final extension of jobless control that is about to expire, remained unclear. Any shutdown would probably be short-lived, but nothing is certain.

“We will not let the government shut down, nor will we let the American people down,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the second House Democrat. “There are ongoing discussions between the speaker and the Secretary of State and the administration.”

Congress could keep operations going by adopting a fourth stopgap funding bill, which would not include coronavirus assistance, until midnight Monday. To do so successfully, lawmakers would need Trump’s cooperation at a time when he is still devoured by his November loss to Democrat Joe Biden, who is set to take office on January 20.

Trump was in Florida, where he was to play golf on Thursday. The White House did not immediately comment. Embarrassed by his defeat to Biden, Trump is pushing Congress to dramatically change the package that passed with wide, bipartisan margins on Monday.

The 5,500-page bill took months to negotiate and was backed by the Trump administration.

With the status quo unchanged, it was unclear whether Trump would sign the package into law or hold out for further action.

Without his signature, unemployment benefits for those thrown out of work by the pandemic will expire as soon as Saturday, and the U.S. government will be forced to a partial shutdown from Tuesday.

The House returns Monday to try to override Trump’s veto over an unrelated defense policy bill that, like the coronavirus package, passed Congress by large, two-party margins.



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