WASHINGTON – Lawmakers on Sunday urged President Trump to sign a massive $ 900 billion aid package after millions of Americans lost unemployment coverage on Saturday as the President put the fate of the measure in limbo pushing for larger relief checks.
Mr Trump’s resistance to signing the bill risks leaving millions of Americans jobless without crucial benefits, jeopardizing other essential support for businesses and families set to expire at the end of the year and raises the possibility of a government shutdown on Tuesday.
The president blinded lawmakers last week when he called “shameful” a relief compromise that massively passed both houses and was negotiated by his own treasury secretary and administration officials. He hinted he could veto the measure unless lawmakers increase the bill’s $ 600 direct payment checks to $ 2,000, and Mr. Trump, who was largely absent from negotiations on the compromise, doubled down on that criticism on Saturday while offering little clarity on its plans. A White House spokesman declined to say what the president intended to do.
“I just want our great people to get $ 2,000, rather than the meager $ 600 that is now in the bill,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter on Saturdayone day he continued to devote many of his posts to lies about the election. “Also, stop the billions of dollars of ‘pig’.”
If the president does not sign the $ 2.3 trillion spending package, which includes the $ 900 billion in pandemic assistance as well as funding to keep government open last Monday, coverage of two federal programs without jobs that have expanded and extended benefits will end Saturday for millions. unemployed.
“None of us totally liked the bill – it’s the nature of legislating, you’re not going to end up with something perfect – but we passed it because it was the agreed number.” , said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois. Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union”. “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. Otherwise, I don’t understand because it has to be done.
Several lawmakers, including Independent Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont, have said Mr Trump should not delay signing the pending law in his Mar-a-Lago estate and instead approve a separate bill providing for checks for $ 2,000.
“What the president is doing right now is incredibly cruel,” Mr. Sanders told ABC’s “This Week”. “Given the terrible economic crisis this country is facing, yes, we must pay every working class individual in this country $ 2,000, $ 500 for their child. But you can’t take care of the bill.
Two governors also said the time for negotiations was over. In a “State of the Union” appearance, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said she has long supported $ 2,000 stimulus checks to Americans, but it was too late in the process to make these kinds of requests.
“Sign the bill, get it done, and then if the president wants to push for more, let’s do it too,” said Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican who also appeared on the show.
Although they harshly criticized Mr. Trump, two progressive elected officials also called for an increase in out-of-pocket payments. On the subject of the “State of the Union”, Jamaal Bowman, Democrat of New York, affirmed that the president “made postures to be made, to bring back like the hero of the American people” after his defeat in November. But like Mr. Trump, he said Americans needed more help.
“It has to be at least $ 2,000, so he has to talk to his Republican buddies and say ‘give the people money,’” said Cori Bush, Democrat of Missouri, who also referred to the figure as 600. dollars of “slap in the face. people in pain.”
Democrats, who have long advocated increasing the amount of financial aid distributed across the country, plan to hold a vote on Monday to approve a stand-alone bill that would increase payments to $ 2,000. But it’s unclear whether this legislation will stand a chance in the Senate, where Republicans have long resisted spending more than $ 1 trillion on pandemic relief.
Republican Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania said on Fox News Sunday that he would oppose such a measure and urged the president to sign the bill, adding that “time is running out.”
“I understand he wants to be remembered for advocating for big checks,” Toomey said. “But the danger is that he will be remembered for the chaos, misery and erratic behavior if he lets this expire.