US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging the Senate to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a $US740 billion ($972 billion) defence policy bill, saying the funding plan for the US military could not be allowed to fail.
- On Monday, the House voted to override the US President’s veto
- The Senate must now vote on whether to override the veto
- The Senate will also consider increasing relief payments to Americans
The Senate convened on Tuesday for a rare end-of-year session to consider whether to override the veto and to vote on whether to increase direct stimulus payments for Americans reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hours earlier, Mr Trump assailed leaders of his own Republican Party on social media, calling them “weak” and “tired” in an apparent effort to get the Senate to increase COVID-19 aid checks from $US600 ($788) to $US2,000 ($2627) and to support his veto of the defence bill.
Mr McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, refused to cave to Mr Trump’s demands on the military bill.
“For the brave men and women of the United States armed forces, failure is simply not an option,” he said.
“So when it’s our turn in Congress to have their backs, failure is not an option either.
“I would urge my colleagues to support this legislation one more time, when we vote tomorrow.”
Mr McConnell did however seek to appease Mr Trump’s other demands.
While he blocked immediate consideration of a measure to increase COVID-19 relief payments to $US2,000, he suggested the Senate would at least examine the issue along with two others Mr Trump has raised — limits on big technology companies and the integrity of elections.
“This week the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus,” he said.
With the New Year’s Day holiday on Friday and a new Congress due to be sworn into office on Sunday, senators have only a short time to act.
A combined $US892 billion ($1.17 trillion) bipartisan coronavirus relief package and $US1.4 trillion ($1.8 trillion) spending bill that Mr Trump signed into law on Sunday contains $US600 checks for people hit hard financially by the coronavirus.
US stocks dipped into negative territory after Mr McConnell rejected Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer’s call for the Senate to approve the increased stimulus aid by unanimous consent.