Trump signs massive government-funded measures, COVID relief

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. President Donald Trump signed a $ 900 billion pandemic relief package on Sunday night, ending the days of drama over his refusal to accept the bipartisan agreement that will provide long-term businesses cash to businesses and individuals and a termination of the federal government will occur.

The massive bill includes $ 1.4 billion to fund government agencies through September and includes other priorities at the end of the session, such as money for cash-starved transit systems and an increase in food stamp benefits.

The signing, at his private club in Florida, came after a day of outspoken criticism from Republicans and Democrats over his objections to the bipartisan agreement, which surpassed the House and Senate by large margins with lawmakers believing they were Trump’s support it. His eleventh-hour demands, including insistence on bigger lighting tests and reduced spending, blinded members of both parties. His ensuing drag led to a decline in unemployment benefits for millions struggling to end and threatening a government strike amid a pandemic.

The signing of the bill prevents another crisis from Trump’s own creation and ends a disagreement with his own party during the last days of his government.

It was unclear what Trump had achieved with his delay, other than empowering the Democrats to pursue the higher checks his party opposes. In a statement, Trump reiterated his frustrations over the COVID-19 relief bill because he provided only $ 600 checks to most Americans instead of the $ 2,000 his fellow Republicans rejected. He also complained about what he saw as unnecessary spending by the government in general.

“I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes it clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed,” Trump said in the statement.

While the president insisted that he send a new version of the Congress to Congress with items that had to be removed during the recall process, these are only proposals to Congress. The bill, as signed, will not necessarily be changed.

Legislators now have room to breathe to continue debating whether the aid should be as large as the president demanded. The Democratic-led House supports the larger checks and will vote on the issue on Monday, but it is expected to be ignored by the Republican-held Senate, where spending is met. For the time being, the administration can only start sending out the $ 600 payments.

Republicans and Democrats quickly welcomed Trump’s decision to sign the bill.

“The bill for the compromise is not perfect, but it will do an enormous amount of good for struggling Kentuckies and Americans across the country who now need help,” Senate Leader Mitch McConnell told R-Ky. “I thank the president for signing this legal aid.”

House President Nancy Pelosi, D-California, calls the signing ‘welcome news’ for the fourteen million Americans who just lost their unemployment benefit lifeline over Christmas weekend, and for the millions of people struggling to stay afloat during this historic and economic pandemic. crisis. ”

But others have downplayed Trump’s delay in passing the bill. In a tweet, Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., Trump of playing Russian roulette with American lives. A familiar and comfortable place for him. ‘

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said he would present Trump’s proposal for $ 2,000 checks to a Senate vote, which puts Republicans on the spot.

‘The House will accept a bill to give Americans $ 2,000 checks. Then I will move to pass it in the Senate, “Schumer tweeted. “No Democrats will object to that. Will Republicans of the Senate? ”

Democrats promise more help will come once President Joe Biden takes office, but Republicans point to a wait-and-see approach.

In light of the growing economic hardship, the spread of disease and a looming closure, lawmakers on Sunday called on Trump to sign the legislation immediately and then follow up Congress with additional assistance. Apart from unemployment benefits and assistance to families, there was money for the distribution of vaccines, businesses and more. Protection against evictions also hangs in the balance.

“What the president is currently doing is incredibly cruel,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. “So many people are hurting. … It’s really insane and this president must finally … do the right thing for the American people and stop worrying about his ego. ‘

Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey said he understands that Trump “wants to be remembered for advocating for big checks, but the danger is that he will be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior if he lets it lapse.”

Toomey added: “I think it’s the best thing to do, as I said, to sign it and then sue for subsequent legislation.”

The same point was repeated by the Government of Maryland, Larry Hogan, a Republican who criticized Trump’s pandemic response and his efforts to undo the election results. “I just gave up guessing what he would do next,” he said.

Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger said there was too much at stake for Trump to “play this old switcheroo game.”

“I do not understand the point,” he said. “I do not understand what is being done there, unless it’s just creating chaos and showing power and being upset because you lost the election.”

Washington has cracked since Trump turned on the deal. Fingers pointed to administration officials, including Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin, as lawmakers tried to understand whether they were misled about Trump’s position.

“To stay in the fray now, after the president’s own person has negotiated something the president does not want, is just that – it’s amazing,” Kinzinger said.

Kinzinger spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union,” and Hogan and Sanders on ABC’s “This Week.”

Mascaro and Taylor reported from Washington. Associated Press author Alexandra Olson in New York contributed to this report.