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Trump Threatens COVID Relief Bill Over Stimulus Checks

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President Donald Trump seems poised to “blow up” the budget bill and the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package if the $600 economic impact payments aren’t boosted to $2,000, according to Greg Valliere, chief U.S. strategist for AGF Investments.

“Trump labels the bill a ‘disgrace,’ blindsiding all of his aides, including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin,” Valliere wrote in his Wednesday morning email briefing. “The financial markets may have to grapple with uncertainty over the COVID aid package for several more days.”

Trump has said the massive 5,593-page bill fails to include enough coronavirus-related relief, stating that the proposed $600 stimulus checks should be boosted to $2,000.

In a video released on Twitter, Trump said the COVID-19 relief bill “has almost nothing do with COVID.”

Trump called the $600 stimulus payments “ridiculously low,” stating that if the bill isn’t amended to boost the payments  to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for a couple  “the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package.”

Valliere opined that the “most likely scenario” is that Trump is bluffing on a veto, though “there’s a scenario in which Trump is serious about his veto threat, and could hold out for $2,000 checks,” which would add $370 billion to the bill’s price tag.

Trump, however, “doesn’t care about deficits, and the Democrats would happily delay passage of the package for such a huge upgrade in checks.”

Pelosi Pushes to Boost Payments

On Wednesday in a letter to her colleagues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Democrats would go to the House floor the same day and ask for unanimous consent to bring up a standalone bill to increase the payments.

“Just when you think you have seen it all, last night, the President said that he would possibly veto the bicameral agreement negotiated between Republicans and Democrats” if the economic impact payments weren’t raised, she wrote.

Pelosi stated in her letter that she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., had “repeatedly asked Republicans what would be the highest number the President would accept for direct payments, and they responded with Sphinx-like silence. In the negotiations, they would never go above $600 and in some cases, proposed $500.”

To do so, Pelosi wrote, “requires the agreement of the Republican Leader. This agreement is necessary in the House and in the Senate. If the President truly wants to join us in $2,000 payments, he should call upon” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to agree to Democrats’ unanimous consent request.

As of Wednesday morning, Pelosi said she was awaiting word from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., as to whether McCarthy would agree to the UC request.

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