President Trump’s call for Congress to amend the $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill to increase direct payments to eligible Americans from $600 to $2,000 cannot pass the Senate, according to a top Republican in the body — who said he remains hopeful the commander in chief will sign the measure.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) cautioned that it would be “a mistake” to not sign the coronavirus relief bill.
“There’s been some apparent misunderstanding about what’s in the regular appropriating bill and what’s in the COVID relief bill, and generally the regular appropriating bill includes things the administration asked for,” the No. 4 Senate Republican began by saying.
“It took us a long time to get to where we are. I think reopening that bill would be a mistake,” he continued.
Asked what was the best way out of this political stalemate, the GOP lawmaker replied, “The best way out of this is for the president to sign the bill, and I still hope that’s what he decides.”
Blunt’s comments make him the highest ranking member of Senate GOP leadership to respond since President Trump called the bipartisan relief bill a “disgrace” on Tuesday evening and called on Congress to amend it.
Blunt warned that the GOP would not cave if the Democratic-led House altered the bill to increase the payment amounts.
“If [Democrats did that], I would be surprised if we dealt with it,” the Missouri senator said.
Pressed on whether a bill with $2,000 payments would be able to get the necessary 60 votes to pass in the upper chamber of Congress, Blunt said, “It would not.”
The coronavirus relief bill, the subject of months of negotiations between party leaders and the White House, was packaged together with a $1.4 trillion measure to keep the government open until September.
The deadline to avert a government shutdown is Dec. 29.
But the sprawling, 5,585-page relief bill is still being prepared by Congress, where lawmakers have decried the lack of time they have to assess the legislation.
With Post wires
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