Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) called on President Donald Trump to sign the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus relief bill as is, saying there would not be enough votes in the Senate to increase the direct payment amount to $2,000 per American.
Blunt told reporters Thursday that it would be a mistake to try to renegotiate the massive spending package, which includes $900 billion in CCP virus relief and is tied to $1.4 trillion to fund the government in 2021.
“It took us a long time to get to where we are. I think reopening that bill would be a mistake,” Blunt said. “The best way out of this is for the president to sign the bill, and I still hope that’s what he decides.”
After receiving the omnibus spending bill on Dec. 22, Trump criticized the CCP virus relief direct payment checks of $600 to individuals while the larger package earmarks billions for foreign countries.
Trump urged Congress to increase direct payments to $2,000.
Republicans and Democrats alike were surprised by Trump’s demand, and while Democrats say they are all in, the GOP members of Congress have generally objected to any increase in spending.
House Democrats filed unanimous consent on Thursday to pass the $2,000 direct payment increase, but the motion was blocked by House Republicans. Democrats, who control the House, are expected to force a vote to pass it in the House on Monday.
Blunt warned that the effort was not likely to get the support of the GOP-controlled Senate. When asked if increasing direct payments to $2,000 would get the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate, he said, “It would not.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Wednesday evening told House GOP members that their party would file a counter unanimous consent request to revisit the foreign aid in the $1.4 trillion 2021 omnibus spending package.
Blunt was critical of McCarthy’s effort, warning that any attempt to renegotiate part of the package would likely undo previous efforts.
“Generally, the regular appropriation bill includes things the administration asked for. Certainly, the negotiated foreign aid provisions would not benefit by opening that part of the bill up, and frankly, if you start opening part of the bill up it’s hard to defend not opening the whole bill up,” Blunt said.
The president vetoed the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Wednesday and said, “Unfortunately, the Act fails to include critical national security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military’s history, and contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions,” he said in a Dec. 23 statement. “It is a ‘gift’ to China and Russia.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that along with the vote on the direct payments, the House will also vote to override Trump’s veto of the NDAA during the Monday session.