The Democrat-run US House of Representatives voted between 275 and 134 on Monday for President Donald Trump's call for 2,000 COVID-19 relief checks, sending the measure into an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Republican Trump threatened last week to block a massive package of pandemic aid and spending if Congress didn't increase stimulus payments from $ 600 to $ 2,000 and cut other spending. He stepped down on Sunday as a possible government shutdown emerged as a result of the battle with lawmakers.
But Democratic lawmakers have long wanted $ 2,000 in relief checks, and used the rare point of reaching an agreement with Trump to push the proposal forward – or at least Republicans against it – in the vote on Monday, less than a month before he left office to record.
A total of 130 Republicans, two Independents, and two Democrats opposed the raise on Monday, which required two-thirds of those in attendance and eligible voters to pass it.
Trump, who lost the November election to Democratic challenger Joe Biden but refused to admit defeat, eventually signed the $ 2.3 trillion package after stopping it with a disguised veto threat. But he continued to ask for checks for $ 2,000.
The $ 2.3 trillion includes $ 1.4 trillion for funding government agencies and $ 892 billion for COVID-19 relief.
It's not clear how the move to increase aid controls will play out in the Senate, where individual Republican lawmakers have complained that the higher amount would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the latest aid bill.
An increase in checks would cost $ 464 billion, according to the Joint Tax Committee, which estimates the legislation before Congress.
The Senate is due to meet on Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn't mention any Senate plans for a vote on Sunday after welcoming Trump's signing of the relief bill.
The coronavirus pandemic killed nearly 330,000 people in the U.S. and created widespread economic hardship. Millions of families depend on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 aid.
Global markets revived after Trump approved the package.
Wall Street major indices hit record highs on Monday as Trump's signing of the relief bill bolstered bets on economic recovery and led to gains in financial and energy stocks.
House lawmakers will also attempt Monday to override Trump's recent veto on a $ 740 billion bill-setting policy for the Department of Defense. If this succeeds, it would be the first veto against Trump's presidency.
When asked at the end of an event in Wilmington, Delaware whether he would support expanding payments to $ 2,000, Biden replied, "Yes."
Georgia Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, facing crucial Senate runoff elections next month that could determine who controls the chamber, welcomed Trump's move without saying whether payments should be increased.
During the floor debate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "Republicans have a choice, vote for this legislation, or vote to deny the American people the bigger paychecks they need."
And US Democratic Representative Dan Kildee said, “We would have put much larger payments into the legislation if he (Trump) had spoken earlier. But it's never too late to do the right thing. "
But Republican Representative Kevin Brady said the bill won't help people get back to work. "I worry that since we are spending another half trillion dollars so quickly that we are not targeting this aid to the Americans who are struggling the most and who need it," he said.
The U.S. Treasury Department expects to send the first wave of $ 600 stimulus checks to U.S. individuals and households as early as this week, as previously planned, a senior finance official said Monday.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell and David Morgan in Washington and Steve Holland in Palm Beach; additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Simon Lewis; writing by Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom; editing by Noeleen Walder, Alistair Bell, Tim Ahmann and Howard Goller)