President Donald Trump finally signed the COVID-19 relief bill and government funding package on Sunday night, ending a crisis of his own making that resulted in 14 million Americans losing their unemployment insurance and threatened to shut down the government during a pandemic.
His signature came after he spent much of the weekend railing against the legislation, demanding the amount of stimulus checks to Americans be tripled and wasteful spending be cut. The president was largely absent while his administration negotiated the details of the final package with Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill.
‘I am signing this bill to restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP, return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more,’ Trump said of the signing.
The White House issued a strongly-worded statement from the president with the signing announcement, where Trump said he was sending back with lines marked out of spending he wants cut.
‘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 in the statement.
But the president doesn’t have line item veto power, which the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional.
The White House also claimed it was getting other concessions from Capitol Hill, including that the Senate will start the process for $2,000 stimulus checks, will repeal section 230 that gives protections to tech companies from lawsuits, and start investigation into voter fraud.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement applauding Trump’s signing the $900 billion relief/funding package but made no mention of the three items Trump claimed he was getting the Senate to do.
‘I thank the President for signing this relief into law, along with full-year government funding legislation that will continue the rebuilding and modernization of our Armed Forces that his Administration has championed. His leadership has prevented a government shutdown at a time when our nation could not have afforded one,’ McConnell said.
‘I am glad the American people will receive this much-needed assistance as our nation continues battling this pandemic,’ he added.
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President Donald Trump has finally signed the COVID-19 relief bill and said there’s more information that will follow despite refusing to sign the $900billion legislative package that resulted in millions of Americans losing their unemployment benefits
‘Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow!’ the president tweeted just before 6.30pm
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s statement made no mentions of the Senate action President Trump claimed is coming
TRUMP SIGNING STATEMENT
As President of the United States it is my responsibility to protect the people of our country from the economic devastation and hardship that was caused by the China Virus.
I understand that many small businesses have been forced to close as a result of harsh actions by Democrat-run states. Many people are back to work, but my job is not done until everyone is back to work.
Fortunately, as a result of my work with Congress in passing the CARES Act earlier this year, we avoided another Great Depression. Under my leadership, Project Warp Speed has been a tremendous success, my Administration and I developed a vaccine many years ahead of wildest expectations, and we are distributing these vaccines, and others soon coming, to millions of people.
As President, I have told Congress that I want far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child.
As President I am demanding many rescissions under the Impoundment Control Act of 1974. The Act provides that, ‘whenever the President determines that all or part of any budget authority will not be required to carry out the full objectives or scope of programs for which it is provided, or that such budget authority should be rescinded for fiscal policy or other reasons (including termination of authorized projects or activities for which budget authority has been provided), the President shall transmit to both Houses of Congress a special message’ describing the amount to be reserved, the relevant accounts, the reasons for the rescission, and the economic effects of the rescission. 2 U.S.C. § 683.
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.
I am signing this bill to restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP, return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more.
On Monday the House will vote to increase payments to individuals from $600 to $2,000. Therefore, a family of four would receive $5,200. Additionally, Congress has promised that Section 230, which so unfairly benefits Big Tech at the expense of the American people, will be reviewed and either be terminated or substantially reformed.
Likewise, the House and Senate have agreed to focus strongly on the very substantial voter fraud which took place in the November 3 Presidential election.
The Senate will start the process for a vote that increases checks to $2,000, repeals Section 230, and starts an investigation into voter fraud.
Big Tech must not get protections of Section 230!
Voter Fraud must be fixed!
Much more money is coming. I will never give up my fight for the American people!
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday will introduce legislation for the $2,000 stimulus checks, which Trump demanded last week when he issued his surprise veto threat. But it’s unclear how such legislation will proceed in the Senate, where several Republicans senators oppose such a large outlay of cash. During negotiations on the final deal, an effort to pass $1,200 stimulus checks failed in the upper chamber.
Pelosi called on Trump to persuade Republicans in joining Democrats to expand the amount of the relief checks.
‘Now, the President must immediately call on Congressional Republicans to end their obstruction and to join him and Democrats in support of our stand-alone legislation to increase direct payment checks to $2,000, which will be brought to the Floor tomorrow. 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 statement Sunday night.
Additionally, the current session of Congress ends on January 3rd, which leaves very little time on the calendar to get such work done.
Earlier Sunday night, before leaving his Mar-a-Lago home to have dinner at his Trump International Golf Club, the president hinted at his plans, tweeting: ‘Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow!’
A short time later, a source confirmed to DailyMail.com that Trump signed the bill Sunday evening at Mar-a-Lago.
After signing the bill, Trump still demanded the $2,000 stimulus checks for Americans in a statement that reads: ‘As President, I have told Congress that I want far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child.
Had Trump continued with his threat not to sign the legislation, the federal government would’ve run out of money at 12.01am Tuesday.
In the face of growing economic hardship and spreading disease, lawmakers urged Trump on Sunday to sign the legislation immediately, then have Congress follow up with additional aid.
Aside from unemployment benefits and relief payments to families, money for vaccine distribution, businesses, cash-starved public transit systems and more is on the line. Protections against evictions also hang in the balance.
‘What the president is doing right now is unbelievably cruel,’ said Sen Bernie Sanders.
‘So many people are hurting. … It is really insane and this president has got to finally … do the right thing for the American people and stop worrying about his ego.’
Republican Sen Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said he understood that Trump ‘wants to be remembered for advocating for big checks, but the danger is he’ll be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior if he allows this to expire’.
Toomey added: ‘So I think the best thing to do, as I said, sign this and then make the case for subsequent legislation.’
Additionally, the bipartisan group of lawmakers involved in the original negotiations issued a statement earlier Sunday demanding Trump sign the bill or veto it if he didn’t like it so Congress could vote on overriding that veto.
‘If your objection to the COVID-19 relief bill will prevent you from signing, please veto it immediately. You’ve made your position clear and rejecting it quickly will allow those in favor to act before it is too late,’ the lawmakers wrote.
‘Never before in your personal, professional, or political life have you been characterized as a man of inaction. Now is not the time to sit idly by – please do the right thing and sign or veto this bill immediately.’
The group included Republican Senators Mitt Romney and Susan Collins along with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.
Trump said he wants the size of the relief checks to be tripled, an 11th hour demand that has thrown the fate of the legislation in limbo. If he continues his opposition, the federal government will run out of money at 12.01am Tuesday while he spends his time golfing (above)
In the face of growing economic hardship and spreading disease, lawmakers urged Trump on Sunday to sign the legislation immediately, then have Congress follow up with additional aid. Trump is pictured playing golf at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach Sunday
The same point was echoed by Maryland Gov Larry Hogan, a Republican who’s criticized Trump’s pandemic response and his efforts to undo the election results.
‘I just gave up guessing what he might do next,’ he said.
Republican Rep Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said too much is at stake for Trump to ‘play this old switcheroo game’.
‘I don’t get the point,’ he said. ‘I don’t understand what’s being done, why, unless it’s just to create chaos and show power and be upset because you lost the election.’
On Saturday, Trump repeated calls for the stimulus checks to be boosted to $2,000 instead of the $600 promised by the current bill, which was overwhelmingly passed by Congress last Tuesday.
Also on Saturday night, unemployment benefits lapsed for 14 million Americans because of Trump’s refusal.
According to the Brookings Institute, 10 million unemployed workers will lose compensation immediately from Saturday while an additional 3.8 million workers are at risk of losing benefits within weeks.
About 9.5 million people had been relying on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
That program made unemployment insurance available to freelancers, gig workers and others who were normally not eligible.
After receiving their last checks, those recipients would not be able to file for more aid.
Congress had last week approved that these payments could continue until March 14, with an added $300-per-week federal boost for laid-off workers. Yet Trump let the program end as he remained focused on stimulus checks.
Vermont Sen Bernie Sanders (pictured) said Sunday morning that Trump is ‘unbelievably cruel’ for not signing the $900billion in coroanvirus relief
‘I simply want to get out great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill,’ Trump tweeted Saturday
The 5,593-page legislation, which was flown Mar-a-Lago on Friday to await Trump’s signature, would have extended the number of weeks people could stay on the program.
Trump sat on the sidelines during negotiations only to emerge after the deal was done and passed by Congress to complain the stimulus checks for Americans were not large enough. The $600 figure was negotiated by his Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
The president stepped in to demand more, saying: ‘$2000 + $2000 plus other family members. Not $600. Remember, it was China’s fault!’
Trump has repeatedly blamed China for the pandemic, dubbing COVID-19 the ‘China virus’ and blaming it for the outbreak, and the shutdowns, closures and subsequent economic losses that followed.
The end-of-year COVID relief and spending bill had been considered a done deal before Trump’s sudden objections.
Washington has been reeling since Trump turned on the deal after it had won sweeping approval in both houses of Congress and after the White House had assured Republican leaders that Trump would support it.
Instead, he assailed the bill’s plan to provide $600 COVID relief checks to most Americans – insisting it should be $2,000.
Democrats had pushed for larger stimulus check but even with Trump’s support, House Republicans swiftly rejected that idea during a rare Christmas Eve session.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to try again on Monday when the House is in session. But the idea is likely to die in the Republican-controlled Senate, as it did among Republicans in the House.
Democrats were also considering a vote Monday on a stopgap measure aimed at keeping the government running until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20.
Trump has not been swayed to change his mind, despite the rejections from his own party and in spite of the nation being in the grip of a pandemic.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) plans to try again on Monday when the House is in session. But the idea is likely to die in the Republican-controlled Senate, as it did among Republicans in the House
On Saturday, unemployment benefits lapsed for 14 million Americans (New Yorkers pictured outside a food pantry in Brooklyn) because of Trump’s refusal to sign the new COVID-19 relief bill
According to the Brookings Institute, 10 million unemployed workers will lose compensation immediately from Saturday while an additional 3.8 million workers are at risk of losing benefits within weeks. New Yorkers are seen picking up food in the Bronx
In addition to the unemployment benefits that have already lapsed, Trump’s continued refusal to sign the bill would lead to the expiration of eviction protections and put on hold a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants and theaters
‘I simply want to get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill,’ Trump tweeted earlier Saturday.
‘Also, stop the billions of dollars in ‘pork’,’ he wrote, referencing additional spending that had been latched onto the main bill providing financial relief to the nation.
While payments could be received retroactively, any gap would mean more hardship and uncertainty for Americans who had already grappled with bureaucratic delays, often depleting much of their savings to stay afloat while waiting for payments to kick in.
In addition to the unemployment benefits that have already lapsed, Trump’s continued refusal to sign the bill would lead to the expiration of eviction protections and put on hold a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants and theaters, as well as money for cash-starved transit systems and for vaccine distribution.
The relief was also attached to a $1.4trillion government funding bill to keep the federal government operating through September, which would mean that failing to sign it by midnight Tuesday would trigger a federal shutdown.
Biden called on Trump to sign the bill immediately as the midnight Saturday deadline neared.
‘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,’ Biden said in a statement.
He accused Trump of an ‘abdication of responsibility’ that has ‘devastating consequences’.