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US House approves $US2,000 checks in COVID-19 stimulus bill

The US House of Representatives has approved increasing COVID-19 stimulus checks from $US600 to $US2,000, however it is still uncertain whether these changes will pass a Republican-controlled Senate.

The bill passed the House with a sweeping majority of 275-134, with 44 Republicans joining Democrats. 

However Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to say how the Senate will vote on the bill.

The changes are good news for Americans, after suffering threats from US president Donald Trump to block the COVID-19 stimulus bill in its entirety.

Mr Trump initially objected to the bill, citing the need to increase the stimulus checks from $US600 to $US2,000.

However Mr Trump backed down from his initial threat to stop the bill and signed a $US2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending package into law on Sunday (Monday AEDT).

Democrats capitalised on this rare point of agreement with Mr Trump to push forward the changes today. 

However this has left many Republicans who disapprove of increasing COVID-19 stimulus checks in an uncomfortable position. According to a congressional estimate, the increase would cost about $US464 billion. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for Mr Trump to actively engage Senate Republicans to vote for the increase in COVID-19 stimulus payments. 

“These Senate Republicans have followed you through thick and thin,” said Mr Schumer. 

“To the president: talking is not enough. Act. Get on the phone and get those Republicans in the Senate to support $2,000 in relief.”

Nevertheless both sides welcomed the end of Mr Trump’s threats to prevent economic relief reaching millions of Americans.

“The compromise bill is not perfect, but it will do an enormous amount of good for struggling Kentuckians and Americans across the country who need help now,” said Mr McConnell.

The bill restores unemployment benefits to millions of Americans and averts a partial Federal Government shutdown during the pandemic.

It includes $US900 billion in COVID-19 aid and $US1.4 trillion for government agencies. 

“I am signing this bill to restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP, return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more,” said Mr Trump in a statement.

Today the House also voted 322-87 to override the president’s veto of the annual defence policy bill. The bill funds service members’ pay and overseas military operations. 


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