The story of Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (AP) – President Donald Trump signed the An epidemic relief package worth $ 900 billion It will save long-awaited money for businesses and individuals. It also prevents government closures.
Trump announced the signing in a statement on Sunday evening.
The hefty bill includes $ 1.4 trillion in funding for government agencies through September and contains other end-of-session priorities such as funds for cash-hungry transportation systems and increased food stamp benefits.
Democrats promise more help once President-elect Joe Biden takes office, but Republicans are signaling a wait-and-see approach.
The news came on Sunday as millions lost unemployment aid, and the government headed toward a lockdown in the middle of the pandemic Lawmakers have appealed to President Donald Trump to act.
Trump clashed with members of both parties and reversed months of negotiations when last week he called for a review of the package – which has already been approved in the House and Senate by large margins and is believed to have Trump’s support – to include greater relief checks and spending cuts.
The federal government was due to run out of money at 12:01 am on Tuesday as he spends the holiday golfing in Florida.
Earlier Sunday evening, Trump provided vague updates, tweeting: “Good news about the Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow!” The White House did not respond to questions about what he meant.
In the face of mounting economic hardship and the spread of disease, lawmakers urged Trump on Sunday to sign the legislation immediately, then follow up on Congress with additional aid. Aside from unemployment benefits and relief payments to families, funds earmarked for vaccine distributions, businesses, cash-hungry public transportation systems, and more are at stake. Protection from evictions also hangs in the balance.
Senator Bernie Sanders said, “What the president is doing now is incredibly cruel.” “Lots of people are hurting … he’s really crazy and this president should finally … do the right thing for the American people and stop worrying about their ego.”
Republican Senator Pat Tommy of Pennsylvania said he understood that Trump “wants people to remember him for calling for major checks, but the risk is that he will remain in memory because of the chaos, misery and erratic behavior if he allows him to expire.”
Tommy added, “So I think the best thing to do, as I said, is to sign this and then present the argument for subsequent legislation.”
The same point was made by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican who has criticized Trump’s pandemic response and his efforts to roll back the election results. “I just gave up guessing what he might do next,” he said.
Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said much was at stake for Trump to “play this old, changing game.”
He said, “I don’t understand the point.” “I don’t understand what is being done, and why, unless the goal is just to create chaos and show strength and annoyance because you lost the election.”
Trump, who has spent most of his Sundays at West Palm Beach golf course, has given no indication that he plans to sign the law while spending the last days of his presidency in a rage. In fact, it appears that his dissatisfaction with the legislation has increased in recent days only because he has criticized it privately to club members and publicly on Twitter.
Days earlier, Democrats said they would call House of Representatives to return to Washington to vote on Monday on Trump’s proposal to send $ 2,000 in relief checks, instead of the $ 600 approved by Congress. But the idea is likely to die out in the Republican-controlled Senate, as it did among Republicans in the House of Representatives during a rare session on Christmas Eve. Democrats were also considering holding a vote on Monday on an interim measure aimed at keeping the government going until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20.
Washington has been reeling since Trump turned against the deal, without warning, after it secured sweeping approval in both houses of Congress and after the White House reassured Republican leaders that Trump would support it.
Instead, he attacked the bill’s plan to provide $ 600 in relief checks from COVID-19 to most Americans – and insisted it should be $ 2,000 – and disagreed with the spending included in an attached government funding bill of $ 1.4 trillion to keep the federal government running through September.
Indeed, his opposition had consequences, as two federal programs providing unemployment benefits ended on Saturday.
Lauren Power of the Brookings Institution calculated that at least 11 million people would lose aid immediately as a result of Trump’s failure to sign the legislation; Millions of others will exhaust other unemployment benefits in a matter of weeks.
How and when people are affected by failure depends on the condition they are in, the program they depend on, and when they apply for benefits.
Andrew Stetner, an unemployment insurance expert and senior fellow at the Century Foundation, said that in some states, people under unemployment insurance will continue to receive payments under a program that extends benefits when the unemployment rate exceeds a certain threshold.
However, about 9.5 million people were dependent on the Epidemic Unemployment Assistance Program, which ended on Saturday. This program made unemployment insurance available to freelancers, temporary workers, and others who are not normally eligible. Statner said that after receiving the last checks, these recipients will not be able to apply for further assistance.
Fingers were pointing at administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, as lawmakers tried to understand whether they had been misled about Trump’s stance.
“Now that the president’s person has negotiated something the president doesn’t want, it’s just that – it’s surprising,” said Kinzinger. “But we will have to find a way out.”
Kinzinger has spoken on CNN’s “State of the Union”, and Hogan and Sanders on ABC’s “This Week”.
The writer Alexandra Olson of The Associated Press in New York contributed to this report.