January 24, 2021

Democrats seize opportunity, back President Trump’s call for $2,000 checks

Democratic members of Congress reacted positively to Trump’s call for $2,000 stimulus checks, a sum that several members said they began advocating for in March.

After Trump released a video address in which he called for more robust stimulus checks, Democrat leaders signaled their support. Following Trump’s interjection, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi all but dared Trump’s Republican allies in Congress to meet the president’s demand for far higher payments.

“Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks. At last, the President has agreed to $2,000,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted. “Let’s do it!” she added.

An aide said she would put the proposal forward Thursday for a vote.

The current stimulus bill, which Trump criticized and signaled he would reject unless checks were increased, calls for $600 for each American making under $75,000 a year.

“Let’s do it. @RashidaTlaib and I already co-wrote the COVID amendment for $2,000 checks, so it’s ready to go. Glad to see the President is willing to support our legislation.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez  (D – New York) tweeted.

Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) also heeded the call. “Me and @AOC have the amendment ready.” Tlaib tweeted Tuesday. “Send the bill back, and we will put in the $2,000 we’ve been fighting for that your party has been blocking.” Tlaib added, sharing a photo of the drafted amendment.

Jon Ossoff, Sen, David Perdue’s Democratic opponent in the upcoming Georiga runoff, tweeted simply on Tuesday night: “$2,000 checks now.”

Trump’s threats to hold up the pandemic legislation threaten to complicate matters for Republicans in Georgia, where two runoff races to determine control of the Senate will be held in January. Sens. Perdue and Kelly Loeffler have been running as ardent supporters of Trump and will now face questions about whether they will back his call for more money for Americans.

Bernie Sanders also reacted positively, reminding that he, along with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Senator Ed Markey, called for $2,000 direct payments at the outset of the pandemic.

“That’s great! I first introduced a bill to provide a $2,000 direct payment with @SenKamalaHarris & @EdMarkey 7 months ago.” Sanders tweeted.

Republicans have been reluctant to spend more on pandemic relief and only agreed to the big year-end package as time dwindled for a final deal. And Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, said that “Trump needs to sign the bill to help people and keep the government open,” and Congress would step up for more aid after.

Trump’s call for changes to the legislation will test his sway with a Republican Party he has held tight control of throughout his presidency. Several Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have begun to gingerly break with Trump and acknowledge his defeat to President-elect Joe Biden, a step Trump has refused to take. McConnell has also warned Republicans against disputing the election on Jan. 6, when Congress must formally affirm the results.

Shortly after castigating the relief bill, Trump challenged McConnell and Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican who has also said any effort to overturn Biden’s victory would be futile. Trump said he would back a primary challenge to Thune when he is up for reelection in 2022.