Herrera Beutler is on board with bigger relief checks

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is on board with increasing direct payments to individuals as part of the COVID-19 stimulus package, joining the unlikely alliance of House Democrats and President Donald Trump calling for $2,000 relief checks.

The Republican congresswoman from Battle Ground was among the bipartisan group of lawmakers who negotiated the $900 billion package that passed Congress and included $600 direct aid for individuals. She said through spokesman Craig Wheeler that she would “support raising the amount of the direct payments to Americans who are struggling financially due to the COVID pandemic.”

“It was difficult to get Congress to agree to a higher amount during COVID relief package negotiations, but after the president’s comments last night it may be possible,” Wheeler wrote in an email.

In a speech posted to his Twitter feed Tuesday night, the president threatened to veto Congress’ spending and coronavirus relief package over the planned size of the checks. His stance squeezes Republicans (especially in the Senate) between a rock and a hard place: Under pressure from both sides, they can either fold to the demands of the president and their most liberal colleagues, or remain the sole obstacle standing between Americans and their much-needed relief checks. That’s a tough look, especially when there’s only a few days until a runoff election in Georgia that will decide the balance of the Senate.

House Democrats are planning to pass a standalone amendment on Christmas Eve that would raise the direct payments to $2,000. Instead of a usual roll call vote, they’ll hold a quick pro-forma session, which only requires one lawmaker to be present. It also only requires one House member to object and halt the process (a likely scenario).

In his email, Wheeler added that the president’s speech erroneously conflated the COVID-19 aid package and the annual funding government bill. They’re separate pieces of legislation, though they were passed by Congress at the same time.

“In fact, the portions of the government operations funding bill he criticized – state and foreign operations spending, the Kennedy Center, and others – were all in his own budget proposal earlier this year,” Wheeler wrote.

“If he vetoes the annual funding bill and shuts down the government, that will do nothing to raise direct payments to Americans and will only delay unemployment assistance and other vital services provided by federal tax dollars that so many need right now.”

Calley Hair

Calley Hair

I write about city and federal politics. Find me at twitter.com/CalleyNHair

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