Responding to multiple calls and prompting s from leaders from both the political Parties, President Donald Trump, finally signed into law a major coronavirus stimulus/survival package along with an annual spending bill on December 27th night, avoiding a government shutdown before a Monday night deadline.
Trump has railed against the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill and a $1.4 trillion government funding bill since Congress approved it, demanding $2,000 checks and cutting out foreign aid. But on Sunday evening after days of being lobbied by allies, Trump decided to sign the bill and not leave office amid a maelstrom of expired benefits and a government shutdown.
The Bill was voted upon nearly a week ago, and millions were awaiting Trump’s signature, as millions of Americans have temporarily lost their unemployment benefits after President Donald Trump failed to sign the Covid relief bill into law.
US President-elect Joe Biden had warned of “devastating consequences” if Mr Trump continued to delay signing but the Saturday deadline has now passed. Republicans both privately and publicly tried to sway Trump to change his mind after days of attacks on the bill.
After careful negotiations among congressional leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trump threatened to blow up the deal — which his own administration negotiated and indicated he would support. More than $2 trillion was at stake, including badly needed pandemic aid for programs like unemployment and food assistance.
The package worth $900bn was approved by Congress after months of difficult negotiations and compromises. Trump said, he wanted to give people bigger one-off payments.
The bill includes the payment of $600 to Americans earning less than $75,000 a year. Mr Trump said, he wants Americans to receive $2,000 but Republicans in Congress refused to agree to the change.
The coronavirus economic relief is part of a $2.3tn spending package that includes $1.4tn for normal federal government spending. A partial government shutdown would have begun on Tuesday, had Trump still not signed the bill. About 14 million Americans would have been affected by a lapse in unemployment benefit payments and new stimulus cheques.
What did Biden say?
In a strongly worded statement published on the transition website on Saturday, Mr Biden described Mr Trump’s refusal to sign the bill as an “abdication of responsibility”.
“It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority,” Mr Biden said.
He praised the example of members of Congress in compromising and reaching a bipartisan agreement, adding: “President Trump should join them, and make sure millions of Americans can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads in this holiday season.”
What’s Trump position?
On Twitter earlier, the president had reiterated his objection to the bill, saying: “I simply want to get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill.”
The coronavirus aid relief bill – with the larger budget bill rolled in – overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives and Senate on Monday but, a day later, Mr Trump issued an implied veto threat, describing the package as a “disgrace” full of “wasteful” items.
He baulked at the annual aid money for other countries in the federal budget, arguing that those funds should instead go to struggling Americans.
Mr Trump’s decision to bat the measure back to Capitol Hill stunned lawmakers since he has largely stayed out of negotiations for a coronavirus aid bill that had stalled since last July.
His top economic adviser, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, had proposed the $600 payments early this month, and many have questioned why the president waited until now to object.
“I will sign the omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed. I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill,” Trump said on Sunday night.
The president also said the Senate would soon begin work on ending legal protections for tech companies, examining voter fraud and boosting the check size for direct payments. The current Congress ends in six days.
“I applaud President Trump’s decision to get hundreds of billions of dollars of crucial COVID-19 relief out the door and into the hands of American families as quickly as possible,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement that did not mention the commitments Trump said the Senate has made.
“To vote against this bill is to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny them the relief they need,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said previously in a statement.
On Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who had pressed for higher stimulus checks, urged Trump to sign the bill, saying on ABC’s “This Week” that “the suffering of this country will be immense” if the president fails to sign the bill before the shutdown deadline.
But even if the House passes $2,000 stimulus checks, the GOP-controlled Senate is not expected to take up the legislation. The chamber will hold a pro forma session Monday morning and is scheduled to return Tuesday to begin the process of overriding Trump’s veto of the annual defense bill.