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Van Drew says Trump's $2,000 COVID relief payment can still pass

Van Drew says Trump's $2,000 COVID relief payment can still pass

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U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd, said the failure to pass increased payments in the giant COVID-19 relief bill via unanimous consent Thursday does not doom the idea.

President Donald Trump has demanded payments increase from $600 to $2,000 for most adult Americans, and Van Drew has said he supports the idea.

"It was never going to happen under unanimous consent," Van Drew said Thursday. That type of motion requires that no one object, and there are almost always a few dissenters.

"This is by no means dead by anybody I talked to," he said.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who has said she supports the higher payments, will likely put it up for a vote in the Democrat-controlled House on Monday, Van Drew said. That's also when an override vote would be scheduled if Trump vetoes the bill.

"I think at the end of the day ... Pelosi is going to put it up because she thinks it will embarrass folks (in the GOP). We will have a machine vote, and some Republicans and most Democrats will support it," Van Drew said. "What happens in the Senate, I can't speak to."

The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to be less likely to pass the higher payments.

"I support it, and I'm willing to go back whenever we have to vote on that," Van Drew said.

The $900 billion COVID relief bill passed both chambers of Congress on Monday with veto-proof majorities after months of negotiations between Trump's Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and congressional leaders. It was paired with the $1.4 trillion overall federal spending bill needed to keep the government working.

While Congress has the votes to override a Trump veto, if the president does not sign it by Monday, the government may have to close for a time, some unemployment benefits would end and relief checks would not go out as quickly as planned.

Van Drew said he understands the concerns of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who voted against the relief bill saying the country should not go further into debt. But New Jerseyans have been so badly harmed by the business slowdown related to the epidemic, more spending is necessary, he said.

"The governor has been tough with COVID restrictions," Van Drew said of Gov. Phil Murphy, and that has resulted in a lot of lost jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in November New Jersey was one of just three states with an unemployment rate over 10%. Its rate was 10.2%, and Hawaii and Nevada's rates were both 10.1%, according to BLS, while the national average was 6.7%.

Trump may not have made it clear enough earlier that he wanted larger payments to individuals and families, Van Drew said, although he did talk about it publicly. But combining COVID relief with the overall federal spending bill also highlighted how much the country spends on foreign aid. That caused some to push for more aid to Americans, he said.

"We have to take care of our own country right now," Van Drew said.

Contact: 609-272-7219

Twitter @MichelleBPost

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