Tempers flare as House fails to pass relief, Dems block request to reevaluate massive taxpayer-funded foreign aid

House Democrats are trying to pin the blame on Republicans as lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives failed to address issues raised by President Trump on the massive coronavirus stimulus bill.

Though the president did not say he would veto the 5,000-page-plus legislation, he did send it back to Congress with a list of problems, including criticism of a $600 relief check to Americans which he felt should be increased to $2,000. But lawmakers from both parties blocked each others’ “unanimous consent” requests on Thursday as the future of the bill remains in limbo over the Christmas holiday.

Democrats tried to quickly pass the bill on Thursday as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. seized on Trump’s request to increase the checks.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly looked to blame Republicans and accuse them of blocking the president’s request – and of depriving Americans of the extra money. She added that the bill would now be taken to the floor with a full up-or-down vote on December 28,

But the president had also called out the “wasteful and unnecessary” spending in the $900 billion stimulus package, specifically pointing to foreign aid that needed to be cut out of the measure which combined year-end spending with COVID-19 relief.

“Mr. President, sign the bill to keep government open! Urge McConnell and McCarthy to agree with the Democratic unanimous consent request for $2,000 direct payments! This can be done by noon on Christmas Eve!” Pelosi tweeted Wednesday, in an effort to taunt GOP lawmakers.

Later Wednesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced that Republicans in the House would counter with their own unanimous consent request on foreign aid.

“House Democrats appear to be suffering from selective hearing. They have conveniently ignored the concerns expressed by the President, and shared by our constituents, that we ought to reexamine how our tax dollars are spent overseas while so many of our neighbors at home are struggling to make ends meet,” McCarthy wrote.

But as lawmakers got to the floor on Christmas Eve, a stalemate soon emerged as it appeared neither Republicans nor Democrats had advanced.

Rep. Rob Wittman of Virginia argued the case for removing the foreign aid portions of the bill.

McCarthy made it clear that this was something the president had called for, in addition to the increase in stimulus checks.

But Democrats, who are responsible for refusing to discuss a relief bill for months as they waited out the results of the presidential election, have zeroed in on the blocked “unanimous consent” related to the checks slated to go out to Americans struggling under the coronavirus pandemic.

“[B]y waiting days before Christmas, Speaker Pelosi tried to use the American people as leverage to make coronavirus relief contingent on government funding — which includes billions of foreign aid at a time when there are urgent needs at home,” McCarthy said in the letter to GOP lawmakers.

“If the President is serious about the $2,000 direct payments, he must call on House Republicans to end their obstruction,” Pelosi shot back after the failed efforts on Thursday.

Unless the president signs the measure, or a new funding bill is approved, the government will shut down on Tuesday.

Frieda Powers

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