McCarthy to offer UC request to revisit foreign spending in omnibus

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is expected to offer a unanimous consent request on Thursday to revise language pertaining to spending on state and foreign operations in the $2.3 trillion omnibus and coronavirus relief package after President Trump called such spending into question.

The request comes as a counter to an effort by House Democrats to pass a bill via unanimous consent that would provide $2,000 stimulus checks instead of the $600 offered in the sweeping legislation that passed both chambers of Congress on Monday evening after months of wrangling.

Trump — to the surprise of many GOP lawmakers — argued that the $600 direct payments included in the coronavirus relief portion of the bill were too small and then called into question “wasteful” foreign aid spending as part of the omnibus.

The foreign spending portion of the government funding bill was in line with requests made by Trump’s own State Department.

Trump’s criticism of foreign spending was conflated with him slamming the pared-down amount of coronavirus-related stimulus checks. Negotiations between congressional lawmakers and his administration over COVID-19 relief and government funding took months to iron out and narrowly avoided a shutdown late last week and over the weekend.

It remains unclear whether Trump will ultimately sign the spending bill. The president did not address the matter before departing to Palm Beach, Fla., on Wednesday for his winter vacation.

On a GOP conference call on Wednesday afternoon, “McCarthy said he talked to Trump and it’s not a sure thing what he’ll do,” according to a source on the call.

Democrats were quick to seize on Trump’s call for higher stimulus payments. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called on the president to sign the omnibus part of the massive spending package and then support a stand-alone bill providing higher direct payments.

Congressional Republicans have largely voiced opposition to larger stimulus checks.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter sent to members of his conference on Wednesday evening, McCarthy blasted Pelosi, accusing her of using the American people as leverage for Democrats’ spending priorities amid a crisis.

“Americans have needed relief from the coronavirus and lockdowns for months. House Republicans have attempted to pass relief over forty times but each time, Speaker Pelosi has ignored our fellow citizens, saying ‘nothing is better than something,” he wrote.

“Worse than that, by waiting days before Christmas, Speaker Pelosi tried to use the American people as leverage to make coronavirus relief contingent on government funding – which includes billions of foreign aid at a time when there are urgent needs at home. Our government’s top priority must be our families, communities, and small businesses as we get through this pandemic and restore our country,” he added. 

Pelosi has argued that Republicans never confirmed a specific amount they would agree to for each direct payment.

A number of GOP lawmakers expressed frustrations with the president threatening to veto the bill after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — who was key to helping negotiate the deal — assured lawmakers the president would sign the legislation. 

McCarthy appeared to side with Trump in seeking to revisit examining foreign aid.

“House Democrats appear to be suffering from selective hearing. They have conveniently ignored the concerns expressed by the President, and shared by our constituents, that we ought to reexamine how our tax dollars are spent overseas while so many of our neighbors at home are struggling to make ends meet,” the letter said

“Thus, Republicans will offer a unanimous consent request to revisit the State and Foreign Operations title of the Omnibus so that we can fully address the concerns at hand,” McCarthy wrote. “It will be up to Speaker Pelosi to decide if she wants to act on behalf of the American people.”

Tags Donald Trump Kevin McCarthy Nancy Pelosi Steven Mnuchin
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