President Trump Demands More Cowbell
Now, you didn’t think President Trump was just going to get all normal and sign the Covid relief and massive omnibus spending package, did you?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2020
The video landed like a sonic boom in Washington. His own aides were stunned. Congressional aides were stunned. Stock market futures quickly slumped on the prospect that the economic aid could be in doubt.
And the implications for what happens next could be severe. If he refuses to sign the bill, the government will shut down on Dec. 29. The $900 billion in emergency economic aid will be frozen, and the race for the two Senate seats in Georgia could also be upended.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), however, quickly responded to the Twitter post by saying congressional Democrats would move as soon as Thursday, when the House is scheduled to meet for a brief pro forma session, to advance the $2,000 stimulus checks.
“Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks,” she posted on Twitter on Tuesday night after Trump’s message. “At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!”
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) also tweeted that he supported the idea of larger stimulus checks, but he blamed Republicans for preventing them from being included in the bill.
“We spent months trying to secure $2000 checks but Republicans blocked it,” Schumer wrote. “Trump needs to sign the bill to help people and keep the government open and we’re glad to pass more aid Americans need. Maybe Trump can finally make himself useful and get Republicans not to block it again.”
Logistically, though, it could prove difficult for Democrats and Trump to amend the bill and approve $2,000 checks in the next few days, or even weeks.
If any Republican in the House opposed Pelosi’s effort on Thursday, it would not pass. Such a change would also require Senate Republicans to pass the measure unanimously, something that is unlikely to happen.
Tucked into Congress’s stimulus bill: Tens of billions of dollars in special interest tax giveaways
Several White House aides spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the chaotic and secretive process that unfolded Monday and Tuesday, when many of them were kept in the dark about Trump’s motives and the video. Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, kept the video very closely held on Tuesday, several of them said, with aides involved in the negotiations learning of it only an hour before it was posted. Even Trump’s legislative affairs office, which is responsible for dealing with Congress every day, was caught unaware, they said.