- It's not clear whether the Senate will deal with the House of Representatives' bill.
- EU ambassadors supported the draft free trade agreement between the EU and the UK.
- The agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom on December 24 will make two-way merchandise trade exempt from tariffs.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Monday that would issue $2,000 checks, an increase from the $600 stimulus checks already going out in the pandemic relief bill. Democrats and moderate Republicans voted for a proposal supported by President Donald Trump.
The vote was 275 to 134, reaching the two-thirds majority required for the expedited procedure used on Monday.
“It’s not exactly what we would put on the floor if Republicans were in control,” said Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), who supported the larger checks.
“But I think it recognizes the fact that [Nancy Pelosi is] the speaker and as a Democratic speaker, they’re going to have an input as to what that package is going to look like in regards to the terms and conditions of the direct checks. I’m willing to take half a loaf, and I think the president recognizes that.”
According to media reports, now that the bill has been sent to the Senate, it will create a political dilemma for Republicans.
Among them, many people were previously opposed the amount of personal assistance exceeding the current bill of $600, partly because they were worried about the total amount of the final price. If the amount of personal assistance is increased to $2,000, it will cost approximately US$464 billion.
“I am concerned about the debt, but working families have been hurt badly by the pandemic,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote on Twitter on Monday. “This is why I supported $600 direct payments to working families & if given the chance will vote to increase the amount.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did not indicate whether the Senate will deal with the House of Representatives’ bill, whether it will try to vote on another bill to increase the amount of personal assistance, or simply ignore the issue.
EU Ambassadors Unanimously Approve EU-UK Trade Agreement
EU ambassadors supported the draft free trade agreement between the EU and the UK, paving the way for the agreement to take effect on January 1. The German government’s spokesperson in Brussels, Sebastian Fischer, said on Twitter on Monday, “the EU ambassadors have agreed to temporarily apply the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement from January 1, 2021.”
Germany currently holds the rotating EU presidency. The approval of the ambassadors of the EU member states laid the foundation for the official approval of the agreement by the 27 governments of the EU on Tuesday and the voting on the agreement in the British House of Commons on December 30.
The European Parliament plans to make a ruling in the first two months of next year, stating that more time is needed for proper review of the agreement. At the same time, the agreement will take effect temporarily after Britain’s Brexit transition period ends on Thursday.
The agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom on December 24 will make two-way merchandise trade exempt from tariffs. It also marks the final departure of the United Kingdom from the European single market and legal framework 48 years after joining the EU.
The agreement will alleviate the impact of the withdrawal from the European single market on the British economy, even if the country’s long-term growth is bound to be affected to a certain extent. It is estimated that in the next ten years, the annual economic growth rate of the UK will be 0.5% lower than that of staying in the EU.
For the EU, reaching an agreement prevented further harm to the relationship with Britain, a key diplomatic and commercial partner, and laid the foundation for further cooperation in the future.