Trump push on USD2K cheques flops as GOP-led Senate won’t vote

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell all but shut the door on United States (US) President Donald Trump’s push for USD2,000 COVID-19 relief checks, declaring the Congress has provided enough pandemic aid as he blocked another attempt by Democrats to force a vote.

The Republican Party (GOP) leader made clear on Wednesday he is unwilling to budge, despite political pressure from Trump and even some fellow Republican senators demanding action.

Trump wants the recent USD600 in aid increased three-fold. But McConnell dismissed the idea of bigger “survival checks” approved by the House, saying the money would go to plenty of American households that just don’t need it.

McConnell’s refusal to act means the additional relief Trump wanted is all but dead.

“We just approved almost a trillion dollars in aid a few days ago,” McConnell said, referring to the year-end package Trump signed into the law. McConnell added, “if specific, struggling households still need more help,” the Senate will consider “smart targetted aid.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks back to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. PHOTO: AP

Not another firehose of borrowed money”.

The showdown between the outgoing president and his own Republican Party over the USD2,000 cheques has thrown Congress into a chaotic year-end session just days before new lawmakers are set to be sworn into office.

It’s one last standoff, together with the override of Trump’s veto of a sweeping defence bill, that will punctuate the president’s final days and deepen the GOP’s divide between its new wing of Trump-styled populists and what had been mainstay conservative views against government spending.

Trump has been berating the GOP leaders, and tweeted, “USD2,000 ASAP!”

President-elect Joe Biden also supports the payments and wants to build on what he calls a “downpayment” on relief.

“In this moment of historic crisis and untold economic pain for countless American families, the President-elect supports USD2,000 direct payments as passed by the House,” said Biden transition spokesman Andrew Bates.