President Donald Trump left DC on Wednesday to spend the holidays at his private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, a day before Congress is set to consider $2,000 stimulus checks as part of the COVID-19 relief package.
On Tuesday night, Trump sent Washington into a frenzy when he bashed the bipartisan stimulus measure that Congress had just passed. On Wednesday afternoon, the lame duck president vetoed the defense spending bill that had passed both chambers with overwhelming support.
It is unclear when Trump will return to Washington. As USA Today noted, an alert from the Federal Aviation Administration indicates he is expected to leave Palm Beach by 6:45 p.m. on January 1. If he stays that long, the already-passed $900 billion stimulus package could be automatically vetoed as a result of his not signing it.
A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on whether the president intends to veto the current stimulus package.
The White House press office insisted, however, that the president will keep busy, saying in a statement that his schedule "includes many meetings and calls."
In the meantime, Democrats are prepared to bring Trump's stated desire for larger stimulus checks to the House floor on Thursday. According to The Washington Post's Jeff Stein, Democrats will seek to approve $2,000 payments — up from $600 in the existing stimulus package — by unanimous consent, meaning it would pass barring objection from any single member of Congress.
If that effort fails, Democrats will hold a vote on standalone legislation Monday, December 28, the Post reported.
The effort comes after Trump in particular said the package, which he had been expected to sign, did not provide big enough stimulus checks.
Democrats were the ones who first proposed $2,000 direct payments. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris cosponsored legislation in the Senate that would provide the checks each month until the pandemic is over. In the House, centrist and liberal Democrats alike backed a companion measure, but the stimulus packaged that chamber passed in May included only one-time, $1,200 checks.
Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have sought to limit the size of direct payments to Americans, and now have to decide whether they want to oppose Trump or cave and save face politically.
Most Americans say the $600 checks weren't enough. According to recent polling from Insider and SurveyMonkey, 76% of respondents said the payment should be $1,000 or more, and 43% said it should be $2,000 or more.
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