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Trump Back In Washington Early Amid Showdown With Congress

Trump Back In Washington Early Amid Showdown With Congress

U.S. President Donald Trump returned to Washington from his Florida resort on Thursday, a day earlier than planned, as he continued a fight with Congress over a defense bill and stimulus checks and amid a spike in tensions with Iran.

WASHINGTON: U.S. President Donald Trump returned to Washington from his Florida resort on Thursday, a day earlier than planned, as he continued a fight with Congress over a defense bill and stimulus checks and amid a spike in tensions with Iran.

Trump, who originally was scheduled to attend a New Year’s Eve party at his Mar-a-Lago resort, did not speak to reporters on departure from Florida or on arrival at Joint Base Andrews near Washington and has not done so in weeks.

The White House has given no reason for the change in plan, but it coincides with Trump’s fight with Congress over his veto of a major defense bill and his demand for increased COVID-19 stimulus checks, as well as a spike in tensions with Iran.

While Trump is back in Washington, President-elect Joe Biden is expected to spend a quiet night at his beach house in Delaware, although he is due to appear on the long-running ABC special “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2021” on Thursday evening.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the chamber, dealt a likely death blow on Wednesday to Trump’s bid to boost coronavirus aid to Americans, declining to schedule a swift vote on a bill to raise relief checks to $2,000 from the $600 included in a $892 billion relief package passed by Congress earlier this month.

McConnell on Thursday again rejected a vote on a standalone bill that would increase the stimulus checks, calling it “socialism for rich people” and “a terrible way to get help to families who actually need it.” The bill was passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on Monday.

McConnell also said there should be nothing controversial about approving the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which Trump vetoed because it does not repeal certain legal protections for tech giants.

“We’ve enacted an annual NDAA for 59 straight years and counting,” McConnell said. “In the next few days – the easy way or the hard way – we’re going to do our job once again. This body will fulfill our responsibility to the men and women who protect our country.”

The House voted to overturn Trump’s veto on Monday. The Senate is likely to override the veto on Saturday at the latest.

If that happens, it would mark the first time lawmakers have voted to override a Trump veto since he took office.

Republicans in Congress have largely stuck with Trump through four turbulent years, but the president is angry that they have not fully backed his unsupported claims of election fraud in the Nov. 3 election won by Biden.

TENSIONS WITH REPUBLICANS

Trump sought to ramp up pressure on fellow Republicans to back the bigger checks for struggling Americans in a series of tweets in recent days in which he attacked Republican leaders as “pathetic” and accused the party of having a “death wish” if it did not increase stimulus payments.

Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri on Wednesday pledged to challenge Biden’s victory when Congress convenes to officially tally the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, which could trigger a lengthy debate in the Republican-controlled Senate but has virtually no chance of overturning the results.

Some Republican senators had supported an increase in the stimulus payments, including David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who face runoff elections in Georgia next week that will determine which party controls the Senate under Biden.

The tensions among Republicans have been exacerbated by the effort in Congress to reject Trump’s NDAA veto.

The Senate voted 80-12 on Wednesday to begin debate on the issue, with another procedural vote due on Friday.

U.S.-Iran tensions, meanwhile, have again spiked.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Thursday accused Washington of trying to fabricate a pretext for attacking his country and vowed Tehran would defend itself even though it does not seek war.

Two U.S. B-52 bombers flew over the Middle East on Wednesday in what U.S. officials said was a message of deterrence to Iran ahead of the first anniversary of a U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3, 2020.

Trump ignored reporters’ questions about the tensions with Iran and whether he would attend Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration when he arrived back at the White House on Thursday.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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