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US Congress inches closer to Trump veto override as Republican tensions grow

Congress

The U.S. Senate was due on Wednesday to hold a procedural vote that could pave the way for Congress to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a key defense bill, as tension between the outgoing Republican president and party leaders grows.

Trump has ramped up pressure on his fellow Republicans to support his decision to veto the bill because it does not repeal certain unrelated legal protections for tech giants, and to back $2,000 onetime stimulus checks for struggling Americans.

“$2000 ASAP!” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

That message came a day after the president attacked Republican leaders as “pathetic,” and warned that the party had a “death wish” if it did not back the bigger payments. He also called again for scrapping social media company legal protections.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a quick vote on the checks and urged lawmakers to override Trump’s veto of the defense bill. If successful, the veto override would be the first such congressional rebuke of Trump.

The House of Representatives overturned his veto on Monday, and the Senate is expected to hold a procedural vote on Wednesday evening. Final passage of the override could come later in the week or over the weekend.

Late on Tuesday, McConnell introduced a bill that combined the $2,000 checks with a provision scrapping the social media company protections and another to study election security, a major issue for Trump, who has claimed without evidence that fraud robbed him of victory in the November election.

The Senate, however, has little time to act, with the new Congress set to be seated on Sunday.

And since most Democrats do not support the second two measures, the maneuver looks set to kill off prospects for all three.

The Democratic-led House passed a stand-alone bill for $2,000 checks on Monday. A growing number of Republican senators support the payments, including David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are running in next week’s Georgia runoff elections that will determine which party controls the Senate under Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration.

Any attempt by the Senate to deviate from Monday’s stand-alone payment measure would require the House to pass new legislation, an unlikely scenario given Democratic opposition and the tight timeline.

Congressional Republicans have largely stuck with Trump through four turbulent years, but the president is angry that they have not fully backed his claims of election fraud.

The cracks in Trump’s relationship with Republican Party leaders come three weeks before Trump hands power to Biden.

Biden, who is spending the holiday in his home state of Delaware, was due on Wednesday to meet his transition advisers while Trump, who is spending the holiday at his Florida resort, had no scheduled events.

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