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House Votes to Increase Americans COVID-19 Relief Checks to $2,000, But Will it Pass the Senate?

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The Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives voted on Monday to increase the amount of the COVID-19 relief payments to Americans from $600 to $2,000. 

But the next hurdle for the increase in payments will be in the US Senate.  Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, told reporters last week that he believed a bill to increase payments from $600 to $2,000 would not get the 60 votes needed in order to pass the chamber. 

"It's not exactly what we would put on the floor if Republicans were in control," said Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), who endorsed increasing the checks. "But I think it recognizes the fact that, (Pelosi is) the speaker and as a Democratic speaker, they're going to have an input as to what that package is going to look like in regards to the terms and conditions of the direct checks. I'm willing to take half a loaf, and I think the president recognizes that."

Forty-four Republicans joined the sweeping majority of Democrats in passing the bill in a 275-134 vote.

President Trump signed the latest COVID relief bill Sunday night, signaling that help is finally on its way for millions of Americans and businesses. But just how much help remains to be seen. 

The President signed the legislation after resisting for nearly a week after an eleventh-hour demand for $2,000 stimulus checks.

But he's still insisting there is not enough money in the current package to help financially strapped Americans. It includes $600 checks for Americans who earn less than $75,000 a year, enhanced unemployment benefits, funding for small businesses, vaccine distribution, and averts a looming government shutdown.

Congress spent six months working on the bipartisan bill. 

The President's own team, including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, helped negotiate it.

But last week - the President said, "It really is a disgrace." 

Some Republicans criticize him for not speaking up before the measure was overwhelmingly approved by both parties.

"If you want to make it $2,000 checks, negotiate that from the beginning," said Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).

"I understand he wants to be remembered for advocating for big checks, but the danger is he'll be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior if he allows this to expire, said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA).

But some senators are also rallying behind a measure to boost direct payments.

"The American people want $2,000. They need it given the economic crisis," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

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