Trump suggests he might not sign COVID relief bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is calling for Congress to amend the $900 billion pandemic relief package passed on Monday before he signs it.
Trump said in a video that he tweeted out Tuesday night that the bill delivered too much money to foreign countries, but not enough to Americans.
The bill provides for a $600 payment to most Americans, but Trump said he is asking Congress to amend the bill and “increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple. I am also asking Congress to get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill.”
The relief package was part of a hard-fought compromise bill that includes $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies through September and contains other end-of-session priorities such as money for cash-starved transit systems, an increase in food stamp benefits and about $4 billion to help other nations provide a COVID-19 vaccine for their people.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly responded to Trump’s tweet with one of her own, all but daring Trump’s Republican allies in Congress to meet the president’s demand for far higher payments. “At last, the President has agreed to $2,000,” she tweeted. “Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!”
But Republicans have been reluctant to spend more on pandemic relief and only agreed to the big year-end package as time dwindled for a final deal. And Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, said “Trump needs to sign the bill to help people and keep the government open,” and Congress would step up for more aid after.
Nevertheless, Pelosi was expected to put Trump’s proposal forward Thursday for a vote.
The Senate cleared the huge package by a 92-6 vote after the House approved it by another lopsided vote, 359-53. Those votes totals would be enough to override a veto should Trump decide to take that step.
The relief package was brought forward Monday afternoon and sped through the House and Senate in a matter of hours as lawmakers worked to close the books on the year. While many lawmakers complained about being given so little time to read the bill, they overwhelmingly voted for it as local businesses and constituents seek economic relief from the pandemic.
Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks. At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it! https://t.co/Th4sztrpLV— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) December 23, 2020
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