After congressional Democrats and Republicans broke a nine-month deadlock on Fiscal Year 2021 spending and further COVID-19 relief funding with their agreement on both fronts earlier this week, President Trump put the fate of the combined spending bill in doubt with suggestions to change the terms of payouts in the stimulus portion of the legislation.

Rather than backing the $2.3 trillion spending package that was passed on Dec. 21, President Trump tweeted a video on Dec. 22 calling for an increase in stimulus payouts under the legislation to $2,000 per person, from the $600 agreed to in the legislation.

“A few months ago, Congress started negotiations on a new package to get urgently needed help to the American people. It’s taken forever. However, the bill they are now planning to send back to my desk is much different than anticipated. It really is a disgrace,” President Trump said in the video. “Despite all of this wasteful spending and much more, the $900 billion package provides hardworking taxpayers with only $600 each in relief payments, and not enough money is given to small businesses, and in particular restaurants, whose owners have suffered so grievously.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., responded to Trump’s video today by getting on board with the suggestion to increase the stimulus check totals.

“In the bipartisan negotiations, Leader Schumer and I repeatedly asked Republicans what would be the highest number the President would accept for direct payments, and they responded with Sphinx-like silence,” Speaker Pelosi wrote in a Dear Colleague letter.

“In the negotiations, they would never go above $600 and in some cases, proposed $500,” Rep. Pelosi said. She added “Yesterday, I said that Democrats would go to the Floor and ask for Unanimous Consent to bring up a standalone bill to increase the payments. To do so requires the agreement of the Republican Leader. This agreement is necessary in the House and in the Senate.”

“Americans need $2,000 checks,” Sen. Schumer wrote in a tweet. “Senator McConnell: Americans need help NOW,” he added.

As of late this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not made any public statements in response to the President’s demand.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.