Yesterday Representative Peter King called out Donald Trump for reversing course on direct payments to Americans after Congress had already reached a deal on the economic relief package.
When King called into the Joe Piscopo show, he agreed with those who thought the $600 stimulus checks approved by Lawmakers on Monday weren’t enough but criticized Trump for threatening to not sign the legislation.
“Why didn’t the president say this before? Why did his administration say it had to be $600?” King asked. “They were the ones driving this.”
He added, “Nancy Pelosi wanted $2,000 all along, and I’m not a Pelosi fan. Bernie Sanders wanted $2,000. Trump and his administration refused to give it, and now he’s trying to somehow double back. He’s leaving Republicans out there hanging out to dry after signing off on an agreement and asking us to vote for it.”
On Tuesday, Trump released a video calling the stimulus package a “disgrace,” he called on Congress to increase the “ridiculously low” $600 payment to $2,000, a sum in which had been proposed by several Democrats over the past nine months.
Both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly approved the $900 billion bill to provide aid to households and businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The measure passed 359-53 in the House and 92-6 in the Senate. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said people could start receiving the checks as early as next week.
“You think all of the Republican senators wouldn’t have voted for it if the Trump administration didn’t tell us to?” King asked. “So I’m really disappointed in the president.”
As Republicans and Democrats clashed about the scale and nature of the bill, talks for the relief package failed for almost nine months. The Democrats passed their own package in May, the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which included payments of $1,200, but in the Senate, it failed. In October, the GOP-controlled chamber tried to pass its own $500 billion bill, but eventually, the initiative failed.
King said that it was the Trump administration that “led the negotiations” and that they knew about the compromise bill “from beginning to end.”
After Trump came out in opposition to the bill, representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) blamed Treasury Secretary Mnuchin for his part in the negotiations. Mnuchin had 190 calls about the package that included Trump between December 14 and 20, according to The New York Times.
“Were you just making stuff up during the Covid relief negotiations? If you weren’t speaking for @realDonaldTrump, then who were you speaking for?” Lieu tweeted, addressing Mnuchin.
Democrats have welcomed Trump’s push for $2,000 stimulus checks with open arms. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, by unanimous consensus this week, her chamber was prepared to carry the issue to the floor. On Wednesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tweeted that Democrats were fully united on the subject, but asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell if his caucus had “the heart to give the American people the relief they’ve needed for months?”
Bernie Sanders replied with a tweet to Trump’s proposal: “That’s great! I first introduced a bill to provide a $2,000 direct payment with @SenKamalaHarris & @EdMarkey 7 months ago. Now, Mr. President, get Mitch McConnell and your Republican friends to stop opposing it, and we can provide working-class Americans with $2,000. Let’s do it.”