Trump, McConnell division grows as Senate poised to override veto

A growing split between outgoing President Donald Trump and Republicans in the United States Congress widened on Wednesday as the Senate moved closer to overriding a Trump veto and Republican leaders rejected his bid for $2,000 stimulus cheques for Americans.

In a one-two punch, the Senate voted overwhelmingly, 80 to 12, to begin reversing President Donald Trump’s veto of the US’s annual defence authorisation. The action set up a final vote to override Trump’s veto on New Year’s Day.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans also broke with Trump by rejecting his proposal to increase forthcoming economic stimulus cheques to eligible US citizens from $600 to $2,000 a person.

Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor that a bill passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, which sought to meet fellow Republican Trump’s demands for bigger checques, “has no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate.”

“We just approved almost a trillion dollars in aid a few days ago,” he said.

Congress had passed a nearly $900bn COVID-19 relief bill earlier this month that included $600 cheques to individuals. Increasing those pay-outs to $2,000 would cost an estimated $464bn.

The defence authorisation bill which Trump sent back to Congress on December 23, provides a pay rise for US troops, sets Pentagon policies and defines major weapons system goals for the year ahead, among other provisions.

Trump had objected to several elements included in the legislation by members of Congress to limit his plans to redeploy US troops stationed overseas and require the Pentagon to remove the names of Confederate generals from military bases.

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