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Trump Signs Covid Relief Bill After Threatening to Block

President Donald Trump signed the latest Covid relief and government funding bill that will send $600 checks to American citizens.
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Update Dec. 27, 8:20 p.m. ET: President Donald Trump signed the Covid relief and government funding bill after delaying his approval of the bill. Trump suggested he would block the bill if stimulus checks were not raised to $2,000.

Update Dec. 24, 9:20 a.m. ET: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attempted to replace the $600 stimulus checks agreed to in the latest coronavirus relief legislation with $2,000 direct payments to Americans by unanimous consent on Thursday but the bill was blocked by House Republicans. 

President Donald Trump requested lawmakers increase the amount of the stimulus checks and House Democrats supported the move. Pelosi said the House would vote Monday on the $2,000 direct payments as a stand-alone bill.

Update Dec. 20, 6 p.m. ET: Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell tweeted that Congress has reached an agreement on the Covid-19 relief bill, reportedly around $900 billion. 

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer confirmed that the Covid relief bill should have enough votes to pass Congress. 

Votes in both the House and Senate likely won't take place until Monday.

Update Dec. 20, 6:20 a.m. ET: Congress could vote Sunday on a pandemic relief bill after reaching a compromise on the legislation’s last stumbling block.

Schumer said a compromise over restrictions to the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending powers, which was pushed by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, could allow the House and Senate to vote Sunday on the $900 billion legislation.

“If things continue on this path and nothing gets in the way, we’ll be able to vote tomorrow,” Schumer said late Saturday.

Toomey had sought to limit emergency powers of the Fed that were established as part of stimulus passed by Congress in March, reports from Bloomberg said. Democrats charged that Toomey’s demand would constrain the central bank and the incoming administration of Joe Biden, leaving it without tools to handle future economic crises.

The New York Times reported that Toomey agreed to narrow his effort to rein in the Federal Reserve. Citing aides familiar with the discussions, the Times reported that precise language was still being finalized.

Late Friday, the House and Senate passed a two-day stopgap bill, signed by President Trump, that would keep the government funded and allow congressional leaders time to continue negotiations. The stopgap funding expires at midnight on Sunday.

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The relief package is expected to include funds for small businesses, direct payments of $600 to many Americans, supplemental unemployment benefits of $300 per week until early spring, and support for vaccine distribution. The legislation also will include resources for education, child care and housing.

Update Dec. 19, 1 p.m. ET: McConnell is hopeful both parties can reach an agreement on a $900 Billion coronavirus relief package by Saturday.

Update Dec. 18, 7:10 p.m. ET:  The U.S. Senate passed the two-day extension of government funding previously approved by the House, sending the measure to the White House for President Trump's signature. The extension will allow Congress more time to try to work out the details of a stimulus bill to provide economic assistance to people suffering from Covid-19-driven closures and shutdowns. 

Update Dec. 18, 6:05 p.m. ET: The U.S. House passed a two-day extension of funding to send to the Senate and avoid a potential government shutdown.

The Senate was unable to pass a stimulus bill Friday after Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) objected to a motion to pass the legislation via the parliamentary tactic of unanimous consent.

The bipartisan bill was supported by Senators Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and was part of the next coronavirus relief package being debated in Washington D.C.

However, with Johnson's objection, Congress hit a speed bump in passing just the portion of the bill that featured $1,200 direct stimulus checks.

"I completely support some kind of program targeted for small businesses so they can reemploy, so they can reopen to restore capital. What I fear we're going to do with this bipartisan package... [is] a shotgun approach," Johnson said, according to Axios. "We will not have learned the lessons from our very hurried, very rushed, very massive, earlier relief packages. We're just going to do more of the same, another trillion dollars."

However, Johnson's Republican colleague Hawley disagreed, arguing that paying working families is very targeted. 

"This body has spent trillions of dollars this year alone on COVID relief. We're getting ready to spend apparently another $1 trillion more. And yet working people are told, they may be last -- if they get relief at all," Hawley reportedly said. 

Hawley said that Sanders would be back in a "matter of hours" to try to pass the bill again. Both Sanders and Hawley have said they will block an extension to government funding when it expires on Friday unless direct payments are present in a relief package. 

According to the Senate's unanimous consent rules, a senator can request unanimous consent to set aside a specific portion of a bill for a separate vote in order to expedite the process. If no Senator objects, the Senate permits the action, but if anyone objects, the request is rejected. 

Joseph Woelfel and Danny Peterson contributed to this article.