President Trump indicated Tuesday night that he would not sign the $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief package, bringing new risk to the effort to provide financial aid to millions of Americans struggling during the pandemic. The bill passed in Congress less than 24 hours earlier.
Without warning, Mr. Trump tweeted a video that urged Congress to go back to the drawing board and increase the $600 stimulus checks to $2,000 per adult. If Mr. Trump vetoes or refuses to sign the bill, Congress would have to reconvene to override the decision.
The economic package not only provides $600 in direct payments for adults making up to $75,000 per year and children – or $2,400 for a family of four – but also an additional $300 per week in unemployment insurance; aid for small businesses; and the extension of a moratorium on evictions.
Following the release of the video, House Democrats said they plan to offer a bill for $2,000 stimulus checks this coming Thursday, and will attempt to pass it via unanimous consent since no one will be on the floor to vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi swiftly tweeted “let’s do it” regarding the $2,000 checks, saying Republicans had “repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks” during the lengthy negotiations.
House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also repeated Pelosi’s claim that Republicans had held up the $2,000 checks, but he urged Mr. Trump to sign the bill. “Trump needs to sign the bill to help people and keep the government open and we’re glad to pass more aid Americans need,” Schumer tweeted. “Maybe Trump can finally make himself useful and get Republicans not to block it again.”
The COVID-19 economic relief package is part of a larger $1.4 trillion bill that funds the government, which is currently only funded until December 28, through September.
It’s unclear how serious the president’s threat is or whether he would actually veto the legislation negotiated and agreed to by his own administration. After weeks of deliberation and negotiations, the House and then the Senate passed the relief legislation and funding for the government overnight, and most of Congress has already gone home for Christmas.
“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 dollars to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple,” Mr. Trump said in the recorded message. “I am also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items in this legislation, and to send me a suitable bill, or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package. And maybe that administration will be me, and we will get it done.”
The next administration will be President-elect Joe Biden’s, not Mr. Trump’s. Mr. Trump has refused to concede the election, despite Electoral College confirming Mr. Biden’s victory.
Mr. Trump also expressed his dislike with foreign aid passed by Congress, urging Capitol Hill to spend money on Americans.
The president has threatened to veto the National Defense Authorization Act, the nation’s defense spending bill. If he follows through, Congress will have to return after the Christmas holiday to attempt to override that veto. It takes two-thirds majorities in both chambers to override a presidential veto.
Shortly before that video posted, Mr. Trump pardoned 15 people, former members of Congress and people convicted in the Russia investigation.