Trump is holding up the COVID-19 stimulus package with demands for $2,000 checks – but there are enough votes in Congress to override a veto

© Al Drago/Getty Images President Donald Trump. Al Drago/Getty Images

  • On Monday, Congress passed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, which included a $600 stimulus check to most Americans.
  • But on Tuesday, Trump called the package a “disgrace” and called on lawmakers to increase the direct payments to $2,000.
  • Though it is not clear if Trump would veto the package, as president, he has the power to do so.
  • However, the House and Senate’s bipartisan support for the package when they passed it on Monday night was so large, they could override a potential veto.
  • Regardless, Trump’s holdup could delay Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s plans to send the checks to American households next week.
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President Donald Trump on Tuesday night slammed the COVID-19 stimulus package passed by Congress, calling it a “disgrace” and delaying the process of getting long-awaited aid and benefits to to the American people.

The $900 billion relief package, which Congress passed on Monday night, would include $600 stimulus checks to most Americans and a supplementary $300-a-week unemployment benefit.

Though it’s not immediately clear if Trump would veto the package – which, as president, he has the power to do – it had received enough votes in Congress to override his veto.

After Congress passes a bill, the president has ten days to review the legislation. In that time, he can sign it into law or veto it by sending the bill back to Congress without his signature.

To override a presidential veto, a two-thirds majority is needed in each chamber of Congress.

Monday’s votes, which were the result of monthslong bipartisan negotiations, are comfortably above that margin:

  • In the Senate, 92 voted in favor of the bill, and six voted against.
  • In the House, 359 voted in favor of the bill, and 53 voted against.

However, there is no guarantee that a vote to override a veto would see these numbers replicated, as Trump’s intervention has the potential to change the way certain lawmakers vote.

© Alex Wong/Getty Images; Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images A composite image of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Alex Wong/Getty Images; Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Bringing a veto to a vote, however, would likely delay the process of getting stimulus checks to Americans as speedily as was initially planned.

Last week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin set out his plans to start distributing payments to American households imminently.

“The good news is this is a very, very fast way of getting money into the economy. Let me emphasize: People are going to see this money at the beginning of next week,” Mnuchin told CNBC.

Any attempt to override a veto would likely set this back.

In a video tweeted on Tuesday night, Trump called on lawmakers to increase the “ridiculously low” $600 direct payments to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples.

Democratic leaders in Congress have since responded by saying that they are also eager to secure $2,000 stimulus checks.

In the Twitter video, Trump also criticized the legislation for including billions of dollars in foreign aid, apparently conflating the COVID-19 relief plan with the omnibus spending bill Congress also passed on Monday.

“Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists, and special interests while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it,” he said.

“I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill,” he added.

During his time in office, Trump has issued eight presidential vetoes. So far, none have been overridden.

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