Speaker Nancy Pelosi: House to convene Thursday morning on Covid-19 aid

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Published at : 24 Dec 2020
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to her colleagues stating she wants to convene a pro-forma House session tomorrow after President Trump demanded a much larger $2,000 stimulus payment. CNBC's Sue Herera joins "Squawk on the Street" with the details. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://cnb.cx/2NGeIvi

Democrats would have welcomed an earlier push for $2,000 direct payments from Trump as Republicans tried to limit the size of the spending package. Indeed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., quickly backed a $2,000 check on Tuesday night. They supported it as a measure separate from the $900 billion rescue package.

They still want the president to sign that bill into law. Before Trump changed his tune, his own Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, signed off on the $600 payments. Republican congressional leaders did not at first back checks as part of the latest round of talks.

House Democrats hope to approve $2,000 payments by unanimous consent during a pro-forma session on Thursday. Any representative who decides to return to the Capitol on Christmas Eve could block the measure. The GOP-held Senate may not approve it even if the House passes it.

“If the President truly wants to join us in $2,000 payments, he should call upon [House Minority] Leader [Kevin] McCarthy to agree to our Unanimous Consent request,” Pelosi wrote to House Democrats on Wednesday.

“The entire country knows that it is urgent for the President to sign this bill, both to provide the coronavirus relief and to keep government open.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office has not responded to Trump’s gambit. However, at least one member of the Kentucky Republican’s caucus got behind Trump’s push for $2,000 payments.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tweeted Wednesday that he would support the provision along with a conservative-backed measure to scrap legal liability for internet platforms.

“Let’s vote,” he said.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., had joined Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in pushing for $1,200 direct payments in the year-end relief bill. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who was one of six Republican senators to vote against the package, blocked both lawmakers’ attempts to approve the checks.

Sanders and other progressives embraced Trump’s new call for larger direct payments. On Tuesday night, the Vermont senator — who backed a monthly $2,000 payment proposal early in the pandemic — urged Trump to “get Mitch McConnell and your Republican friends to stop opposing” a larger check.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., noted that she and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., already wrote a legislative amendment for $2,000 payments.

Despite their support for bigger checks, some Democrats still questioned Trump’s motives in pushing for them now after sitting out the legislative talks.

“Trump took no interest at all in the negotiations. None. It was his own party that insisted the checks be $600,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., tweeted Wednesday.

“If you think he cares about the size of the checks, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. All this is is a middle finger to America on his way out the door.”

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