Trump signs Covid-19 bill to block government closure

WASHINGTON – President Trump on Sunday night signed a comprehensive pandemic bill that put an end to the fight against Congress and paved the way for millions of Americans to get economic relief as the coronavirus pandemic rises across the country.

Mr. Trump last week objected to the legislation, having already passed Congress with overwhelming dual support, saying lawmakers should increase the size of direct payments to Americans to $ 2,000, compared to $ 600 per adult and per child for individuals with adjusted gross amount. income below $ 75,000.

He signed the legislation under pressure from lawmakers from both parties. In a statement, the president called on Congress to remove the spending he wasted on the bill, saying he would send lawmakers a list of provisions he wants to eliminate – an effort that, according to the Democrats will appear.

The president also said he expects Congress to vote on separate legislation to increase direct payments to $ 2,000. The House was already planning to vote on such a bill on Monday. Mr. Trump said the Senate “will begin the process” of voting on legislation to increase direct payments, as well as withdrawing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and investigating alleged voter fraud.

Latest on the Covid-19 bill

“A lot more money is coming,” he said. Trump said. “I will never give up my fight for the American people!”

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) Declined to comment on the legislation. Trump has said the Senate will not consider it. The Senate is expected to return on Tuesday, and Mr. McConnell will probably speak then.

“I thank the president for signing this legal aid, along with the government funding legislation for the entire year,” he said. McConnell said in a statement. “His leadership prevented a government shutdown at a time when our country could not afford it.”

The president argued that giants in social media such as Facebook and Twitter use Article 230 to suppress conservative voices on their platforms. They deny the allegations, although social media sites regularly label the president’s posts as unfounded if he disputes the outcome of the election. Mr. Trump also claimed that the 2020 election was rife with voter fraud, but his allies provided no evidence of widespread fraud, and Attorney General William Barr said the Department of Justice did not detect fraud on a scale that result of the election.

The massive year-end package signed by the president includes a $ 1.4 billion bill to continue government funding in September, a measure that Mr. Trump, according to him, includes wasteful spending on foreign aid.

Mr. Trump has said he will use the Shield Control Act of 1974 to freeze funding temporarily. The law states Mr. Trump able to send a proposal to lawmakers to repeal certain funds, which then freeze the funds for a maximum of 45 days, counted in a way that is taken into account when Congress is in session, according to the Congressional Research Service. The 45-day clock begins when Congress begins its new session on January 3rd.

Mr. Trump is unlikely to be able to use the law to keep these funds permanent, especially since President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated soon. A Democratic assistant said the House Mr. Trump’s request to revoke funding will be ignored.

The president’s decision to sign the bill covers days of uncertainty and confusion in Washington as the coronavirus pandemic in the US continues to rage, and experts have expressed concern about increasing hospitalizations in many parts of the country. More than 332,000 people have died in the U.S. from the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Democrats support Trump’s calls to increase payments. The House tried unanimously on Thursday to pass a bill, and when that failed, a vote was put in place for Monday on the legislation. It is unclear when the Senate will take the measure.

“The president must now immediately call on Republicans in Congress to end their obstruction and to assist him and Democrats in supporting our stand-alone legislation to increase direct paychecks to $ 2,000, which will be the floor will be brought up, “said House Speaker Nancy. Pelosi (D., California) said in a statement. “Every Republican who votes against this bill is a vote to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny the American people the relief they need.”

Mr. Trump has been campaigning over the past few days by several Republican lawmakers, including Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (California).

Two pandemic-related unemployment assistance programs expired over the weekend and will resume now that Mr. Trump has signed the bill, but according to experts, payments are likely to be delayed. The first program provided unemployment benefits for performers and contract workers and others who are not normally unemployed. The second provided up to 13 weeks of additional payments to individuals who had exhausted other benefit-paying programs, such as ordinary state unemployment benefits.

In early December, according to the Labor Department, about 14 million people received benefits through the pandemic relief programs, which represent nearly three-quarters of those currently receiving unemployment benefits.

The bill also extends the maximum number of weeks a person can claim unemployment benefits to 50 weeks. It offers an additional subsidy of $ 100 per week for workers who have both wages and self-employment, but whose basic unemployment benefits do not take into account their income from self-employment.

It also offers unemployed Americans an additional benefit of up to $ 300 per week, a reduction from the previous $ 600 per week approved in April and ending in the summer.

The legislation extends to the end of January 2021 with a federal eviction ban and provides $ 25 billion in assistance to arrears tenants with their rent. It also contains billions of dollars to help airlines, small businesses, entertainment venues and farms, as well as money to help Americans get vaccinated against the virus.

The president has objected to the level of spending of the $ 1.4 billion bill attached to fund the government until next September, with the exception of money for foreign aid. The 5,593-page year-end package contains money for government programs and foreign aid.

The legislation allocates $ 55.5 billion for discretionary funding in foreign operations, including the fight against terrorism, which is $ 820 million more than the previous year, and $ 10.8 billion above the president’s request.

About $ 26.5 billion goes abroad for development aid, global health programs and humanitarian aid. The amount is $ 527 million higher than the previous year. Much of this funding meets bilateral commitments that the US has entered into with foreign countries. Much of the help has been requested by the Trump administration in the president’s budget.

The president’s decision comes because lawmakers are also grappling with Trump’s veto of the $ 740.5 billion separate defense bill, which the president has criticized for removing provisions from confederate base names and troop levels abroad, as well as the lack of legislation. of language revoking the broad immunity of Internet platforms for the content they publish from users on their websites.

The House plans Monday to vote to oust Mr. To replace Trump’s veto of defense policy. If the House, as expected, succeeds in dominating, the Senate plans to return on Tuesday to cast its vote on the matter, which could be the first time Congress has one of Mr. Trump’s vetoes dominate.

“This is a wonderful account, it goes after China, Russia, are doing a lot to sharpen our cyber defense, which, as we have seen, is extremely vulnerable,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.) Told CNN Sunday. “To uphold the president’s veto after you vote for this bill, I just do not understand.”

Write to Natalie Andrews at [email protected] and Andrew Restuccia at [email protected]

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