WASHINGTON – President Trump abruptly signed a measure on Sunday providing $ 900 billion in pandemic aid and funding the government until September, ending last-minute unrest he himself had created over ‘legislation that will provide an economic lifeline to millions of Americans and prevent government shutdown.
The signing was a sudden reversal for the president, who last week looked set to derail the bill. But the move came after the end of two critical unemployment programs, guaranteeing a delay in benefits for millions of unemployed Americans.
The president had largely been sidelined for months of negotiations, so his last-minute resistance last week to signing the $ 2.3 trillion package surprised lawmakers and policymakers. White House. He has raised fears that such a delay will worsen the economic toll as the coronavirus pandemic rages across the country.
Aid bill includes a revival of expanded and extended unemployment benefits, billions of dollars to help states distribute coronavirus vaccines, a replenished small business loan program and relief funds for companies aerial. It was passed with a spending measure to maintain government funding for the remainder of the year.
About 24 hours after the measure’s overwhelming approval by Congress, Mr. Trump a surprise video from the White House Tuesday night and called for direct payments to be more than tripled to $ 2,000 per adult.
Hinting that he might veto the legislation, the president also criticized provisions in the funding bill that provided foreign aid and allocated money to Washington institutions like the Kennedy Center for the Performing. Arts and the Smithsonian. Many of Mr. Trump’s complaints were about measures that distributed money in accordance with his own White House budget requests.
Over the holiday weekend spent at his estate and golf club in Florida, Mr Trump appeared to double his reluctance to sign the legislation, calling for direct payments of $ 2,000 and for Congress to cut some of the spending on the government. But in a sharp reversal on Sunday, he suddenly teased, “Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow! “
The most pressing issue caused by the President’s delay was the fate of unemployment benefits. Mr Trump’s decision to wait several days before signing the bill means that two unemployment programs meant to expand and expand federal unemployment benefits have expired, which guidelines for states pending to reprogram systems and reporting the new law have been delayed and that millions of unemployed Americans have been delayed. left unsure if any federal relief would come.
Lawmakers on both sides spent the weekend urging Mr. Trump to sign the bill and turn the tide, with a bipartisan group of lawmakers who had helped break a months-long deadlock in Congress on aid to the stimulus, urging either an immediate signing or a veto to “ allow those in favor to act before it is too late. “
“I understand he wants to be remembered for arguing for big checks,” Pennsylvania Republican Senator Patrick J. Toomey told Fox News. “But the danger is that he will be remembered for the chaos, misery and erratic behavior if he lets this expire.
Alan Rappeport and Ben Casselman contributed reporting.