“$2,000 + $2,000 plus other family members. Not $600!”. Thus spoke President Trump, who refused to sign an end of year Covid relief and spending bill that had been considered a done deal before his objections.
The fate of the bipartisan package remained in limbo Sunday as Trump continued to demand larger Covid relief checks and complained about “pork” spending. Without the widespread funding provided by the massive measure, a government shutdown would occur when money runs out at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
Trump assailed the bill’s plan to provide a mere $600 Covid relief checks to most Americans — insisting it should be $2,000. House Republicans swiftly rejected that idea during a rare Christmas Eve session. But Trump has not been swayed.
“I simply want to get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill,” Trump tweeted Saturday from Palm Beach, Florida, where he is spending the holiday. “Also, stop the billions of dollars in ‘pork.’”
Joe Biden called on Trump to sign the bill immediately as the midnight Saturday deadline neared for two federal programs providing unemployment aid. Biden accused Trump of an “abdication of responsibility” that has “devastating consequences.”
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 $1.4 trillion 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.