The President of the United State of America, Donald Trump, recently signed a $900 billion pandemic relief package, which finally puts to bed his delay in assenting to the bill.
The bill includes $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies through September and contains other end-of-session priorities such as money for cash-starved transit systems and an increase in food stamp benefits.
The signing came after a day of vocal criticism from Republicans and Democrats over Trump’s objections to the bipartisan agreement, which passed the House and Senate by large margins with lawmakers believing they had Trump’s support.
- Trump’s eleventh-hour demands, including a push for larger relief checks and scaled-back spending, had blindsided members of both parties. His subsequent delay resulted in a lapse in unemployment benefits for millions struggling to make ends meet and threatened a government shutdown in the midst of a pandemic.
Aside from empowering Democrats to push for the higher checks that his party opposes, It was unclear what Trump had accomplished with the delay.
In his statement,
- Trump repeated his frustrations with the Covid-19 relief bill for providing only US$600 checks to most Americans instead of the US$2,000 that his fellow Republicans rejected.
- He also complained about what he considered unnecessary spending by the government at large.
What they are saying
The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, said:
- “The compromise bill is not perfect, but it will do an enormous amount of good for struggling Kentuckians and Americans across the country who need help now. I thank the President for signing this relief into law,” he added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, submitted that:
“It is a welcome news for the fourteen million Americans who just lost the lifeline of unemployment benefits on Christmas Weekend, and for the millions more struggling to stay afloat during this historic pandemic and economic crisis.”
Despite these positive comments, some slammed Trump’s delay in turning the bill into law.
In a tweet, Representative Gerry Connolly said:
- “ Trump played Russian roulette with American lives. A familiar and comfortable place for him.”
Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, stated that he would offer Trump’s proposal for US$2,000 checks for a vote in Senate – putting Republicans on the spot.
- “The House will pass a bill to give Americans $2,000 checks. Then, I will move to pass it in the Senate. No Democrats will object. Will Senate Republicans?”
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said:
- “I understand that Trump wants to be remembered for advocating for big checks, but the danger is he’ll be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behaviour if he allows this to expire. So, I think the best thing to do; as I said, sign this and then make the case for subsequent legislation.”