U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House in Washington, DC on December 12, 2020.
Aandrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump signed a massive coronavirus support and government funding package on Sunday. For five days he panicked Washington by suggesting that he veto the bill, which he believed was a “disgrace”.
He declined to approve the legislation for days after receipt after exceeding a Saturday deadline to prevent an estimated 14 million people from temporarily losing unemployment insurance.
The move extends the extended unemployment benefits into March, but millions are expected to lose a week in benefits for these people as Trump was late in signing the bill. Unemployed Americans who are eligible for a $ 300 weekly allowance will also receive the extra money later than they could have.
The government would have closed Tuesday during a deadly pandemic if Trump hadn’t approved the legislation.
The president called the bill a “shame” on Tuesday evening – after Congress approved it after talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Trump claimed he opposed the bill because it included $ 600 instead of $ 2,000 in direct payments to most Americans and because the $ 1.4 trillion portion of government spending included foreign aid. The President’s White House has included these funds in its budgets, and Trump has largely stayed out of the legislative negotiations.
After Trump expressed support for larger checks, the Democrats adopted his stance. The democratically held house plans to vote on Monday on a measure to increase payments to $ 2,000.
In a statement on Sunday evening, Trump said the Senate would also “initiate the process for a vote that increases the checks to $ 2,000.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell mentioned no plans to include the legislation if the House passes it in a separate statement hailing the bill. Most of the Kentucky Republican Caucus has opposed major direct payments.
After Trump signed the bill, House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Urged Trump to urge Republicans to support the bill in order to increase the amount of cash deposits. In a statement, she said, “Any Republican vote against this bill is a vote to deny the financial hardship of families and to deny the American people the relief they need.”
The president also said he would send Congress a “formal resignation” requesting that what he calls “wasteful items” be removed from the bill. Legislators cannot choose to cancel the previously approved money as the legislation passed both houses of Congress with overwhelming support from both parties.
Trump also said that “Congress” – without indicating whether both houses agreed to the plan – “promised” that the provision in Section 230, which provides internet platforms with legal liability protection, “will be reviewed and either terminated or fundamentally reformed”. He also claimed Congress would look into his baseless allegations that widespread fraud cost him the 2020 elections. As Congress drafted the coronavirus aid deal, Trump spent much of his time spreading conspiracy theories and trying to reverse the election results.
The White House had signaled for weeks that Trump would sign the pandemic relief bill passed by the divided Congress. His threat to defy the legislation shocked Capitol Hill and made Americans struggle to adjust their plans.
For example, the airlines had moved to bring back employees with $ 15 billion in wage support included on the bill.
Many economists and lawmakers have called the $ 900 billion coronavirus aid package inadequate. Still, it will send a dose of the help it needs as the virus overwhelms the health system and economy.
The measure provides for a weekly unemployment supplement of USD 300 per week until mid-March. It temporarily expands programs that allow freelancers and gig workers to get unemployment benefits and increases the number of weeks unemployed Americans can get help.
It sends $ 600 direct payments to most people and adds $ 600 for each child. The legislation provides for another round of small business support, the majority of which comes from $ 284 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans.
Almost $ 30 billion will be spent distributing Covid-19 vaccines to ensure Americans can get free shots. The move also provides more than $ 20 billion in government testing and contact tracing efforts.
Together with the extension of the eviction moratorium, $ 25 billion will be spent on rental support. The airline’s payroll is part of a transportation relief of more than $ 45 billion.
The package also provides $ 82 billion for K-12 and higher education.
Democrats have announced that after President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20, they will be quick to push for another relief bill that will be characterized by direct payments and state and local government aid. Your ability to pass a bill will depend in part on whether Republicans retain control of the Senate in two runoff elections on January 5th in Georgia.
“This relief legislation is a down payment of what is needed to destroy the virus, put money in the pockets of the American people, and honor our heroes – our healthcare workers, first responders, transit and sanitation workers, and teachers,” said Pelosi.