President Donald Trump Finally Signs COVID Relief Bill After Stall
Last week, the president suggested he would veto the bill if it was not revised to remove numerous spending measures he disliked
President Donald Trump signed the $2.3 trillion government funding deal into law Sunday night after causing an unnecessary and much-maligned delay in its approval.
In addition to extending unemployment benefits for the millions left without jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, the bill will also give $600 direct payments to each adult making less than $75,000, with a reduced amount for those making up to $87,000 and none above that. (There are some exceptions.) People would also receive $600 per child.
The news of Trump signing the deal comes after he sent Congress into a panic last week when he suggested he would veto the bill if it was not revised to increase direct payments to $2,000 and to remove numerous spending measures he disliked — ahead of a government shutdown that is set to begin this Tuesday, Dec. 29.
After Congress passed the $900 billion stimulus package (which was part of the relief bill) on Dec. 21, Trump posted a speech on Dec. 22, in which he called the bill a "disgrace" and demanded that direct payments to Americans be up to $2,000.
"I'm asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple," Trump said.
Democrats in the House of Representatives had always envisioned a much larger relief bill and more direct payments before compromising with Republicans. After Trump's call for $2,000 checks, Democrat Richard Neal introduced an amendment to the larger stimulus package last Thursday, which would "increase recovery rebate amounts to $2,000 for individuals."
However, House Republicans blocked the increase that same day, with Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy writing in a letter to House colleagues that Democrats "have conveniently ignored the concerns expressed by the President ... 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."
McCarthy mentioned nothing in his letter about including larger payments in the package, per the president's request.
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In a statement released Thursday, Nancy Pelosi assailed Republicans for "obstructing" the measure.
"Today, on Christmas Eve morning, House Republicans cruelly deprived the American people of the $2,000 that the President agreed to support. If the President is serious about the $2,000 direct payments, he must call on House Republicans to end their obstruction," the statement read.
The statement continued: "On Monday, I will bring the House back to session where we will hold a recorded vote on our stand-alone bill to increase economic impact payments to $2,000 ... Hopefully by then the President will have already signed the bipartisan and bicameral legislation to keep government open and to deliver coronavirus relief.”
On Sunday night, Pelosi called Trump's signing of the original bill "welcome news," but then urged him to "call on Congressional Republicans to end their obstruction" of the stand-alone legislation to increase direct payment checks to $2,000.
"Every Republican vote against this bill is a vote to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny the American people the relief they need," she said in a statement.