US Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has rejected calls from an unlikely alliance of President Donald Trump, congressional Democrats and some Republicans to boost coronavirus aid.
The House of Representatives, held by the Democrats, had voted to increase aid cheques to Americans to $2,000. Dozens of House Republicans, reluctant to defy Mr Trump, backed the increase. But Mr McConnell’s objections mean there will not be a direct vote on a revised Covid aid bill in the Senate.
Mitch McConnell said raising aid cheques would be “another fire hose of borrowed money”. The move could in effect kill off Mr Trump’s demands for bigger cash handouts to help the economy recover, correspondents say.
Congress had initially agreed the smaller $600 (£440) payments in a Covid relief and government funding bill. Mr Trump sent that back to Capitol Hill before Christmas, saying the stimulus payment should be higher. He eventually, and grudgingly, signed the original bill with the lower payments into law on Sunday, but has continued to demand more money.
On Monday, House Democrats – usually sworn political foes of Mr Trump – passed the measure for $2,000 cheques that he requested.