It could trigger a partial shutdown of the U.S. government if Donald Trump refuses to sign a government relief and spending bill that was considered a done deal before his sudden objections.
The unemployment benefits for millions of Americans facing hardship could expire if Donald Trump refuses to sign the bipartisan package. Why Jan. 6 is a key date in U.S. elections – a look at what’s next Trump has called for bigger Covid 19 aid checks and complained about “pork” spending that could also force a government shutdown if the money runs out at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday – in the midst of a pandemic.
Washington is reeling since Mr. Trump floated the package after it had already received broad approval in both houses of Congress and after the White House assured Republican leaders that the president would support it.
He instead attacked the bill’s plan to give most Americans $600 (£442) worth of Covid 19 assistance checks – insisting it should be $2,000 (£1,474).
House Republicans quickly turned down the idea during a rare Christmas Eve meeting, but Mr. Trump was undeterred.
“I just want our great people to get $2,000 instead of the measly $600 now in the bill,” Mr. Trump tweeted from Palm Beach, where he is spending the Christmas vacation. “Also, stop the billions of dollars in ‘pork’.” U.S. President-elect Joe Biden urged Trump to sign the bill immediately, saying two federal unemployment assistance programs would expire Saturday.
“It’s the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they will make ends meet because President Donald Trump refuses to sign an economic relief bill passed by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority,” Mr. Biden said.
He accused Mr. Trump of an “abdication of responsibility” that will have “devastating consequences.”
“I’ve talked to people who are afraid they’re going to be kicked out of their homes during the Christmas holidays, and that could still be the case if we don’t sign this bill,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat.
Donald Trump threatens to derail U.S. Congress’ Covid 19 aid package Lauren Bauer, economic studies fellow at the Brookings Institution, has calculated that 11 million people would immediately lose assistance from the programs without additional aid; millions more would exhaust other unemployment benefits within weeks.
The bill awaiting Trump’s signature would also activate a $300 (£221) weekly federal supplement to unemployment benefits.
The president has spent his last days in office playing golf and tweeting angrily as he refuses to accept his defeat by Biden in the Nov. 3 election.
He tweeted, “If a Democratic presidential candidate rigged and stole an election, with evidence of such actions at levels never before seen, Democratic Senators would consider it an act of war and fight to the death,” he raged.
He also said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans “just want to let it pass. NO FIGHT!” Trump also denounced the Supreme Court, the Justice Department and the FBI, while appearing to encourage his supporters to rally in Washington on Jan. 6, the day the U.S. Congress tallies Electoral College votes – even though a similar event last month degenerated into violence in which several people were stabbed on the streets of the capital.
In addition to freezing unemployment benefits, Trump’s inaction on the bill would cause protections against evictions to expire and put a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants and theaters on hold, along with money for schools and vaccine distribution.
The relief is also attached to a $1.4 trillion (£1 trillion) U.S. government funding bill to keep the federal government operating.