Republicans block higher stimulus cheques in Congress

Republicans in the House of Representatives have blocked an effort to provide Americans bigger pandemic relief payments, intensifying a crisis sparked by Donald Trump’s objection to a $900bn packaged passed by Congress.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker, on Thursday tried unsuccessfully to secure agreement from Republicans to boost the value of pandemic relief cheques from $600 agreed in the legislation to $2,000 after Mr Trump said the bill that his own team had helped negotiate was a “disgrace” and called for the higher payments.

Democrats, who control the House, will on Monday hold a vote on the measure. The effort failed on Thursday because the move required “unanimous consent” due to procedural rules but was blocked by Republican leaders.

The crisis on Capitol Hill has sparked fresh fears about a government shutdown over the holiday period. The pandemic relief measure was bundled together with a $1.4tn omnibus spending bill to fund the government. Unless Mr Trump signs the entire package into law by midnight on Monday, the government will run out of money.

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