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On Sunday, President Donald Trump signed a $900 billion (664 billion pounds) pandemic aid package, ending days of drama over his refusal to endorse the bipartisan deal that offers long-sought funds to corporations and individuals and averts a shutdown by the federal government.
The huge bill provides $1.4 trillion (1.03 trillion pounds) through September to finance federal departments and includes other end-of-session goals, such as money for cash-strapped transit networks and an expansion in benefits for food stamps.
In a statement voicing discontent with the Covid 19 relief, Mr. Trump declared the signing because it contains checks worth just $600 (£443) for most Americans instead of the $2,000 (£1,476) refused by his Republican colleagues.
He also protested about what he perceived in general as excessive government spending. But the last-minute objections from Trump sparked an outcry because lawmakers thought that he favored the bill, which had been discussed with White House input for months.
“I will sign the omnibus and covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items must be removed,” Mr. Trump said in the statement.
Although the president insisted that he would give “a redacted version” to Congress with the things to be eliminated as part of the repeal process, those are just Congress’ suggestions. The bill will not actually be altered, as signed.
Politicians now have space to discuss further whether the relief checks should be as broad as demanded by the president. The Democratic-led House of Representatives supports the larger checks and will vote on them on Monday, but the Republican-held Senate, where spending faces staunch resistance, is likely to ignore them.
Republicans and Democrats have been swift to support the decision by Mr. Trump to sign the bill.
“The compromise bill is not perfect, but it will do a tremendous amount of good for struggling Kentuckians and Americans across the country who need help now,”The compromise bill is not perfect, but it will do a tremendous amount of good to combat Kentuckians and Americans across the country who need help now. “I thank the president for signing this relief into law.”
As President-elect Joe Biden takes office, Democrats are promising more assistance, but Republicans are signalling a wait-and-see approach.
Faced with rising economic distress, spreading sickness and a looming shutdown, on Sunday, lawmakers had urged Trump to quickly sign the bill and then let Congress follow with more assistance.
In addition to unemployment insurance and family welfare payments, funding is at stake for the delivery of vaccinations, companies, cash-strapped public transit systems and more. Eviction rights always hangs in the balance.
“What the president is doing right now is incredibly cruel,” Independent Senator Bernie Sanders said. “So many people are hurting. It’s really insane and this president needs to finally … do the right thing for the American people and stop worrying about his ego.”
Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey said he knows that Mr. Trump “wants to be remembered for big checks, but the danger is that he will be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior if he lets this play out.”
In the same way, Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican who has denounced the response of Mr. Trump to the pandemic and his efforts to reverse the outcome of the election, said. He said, “I’ve given up trying to guess what he might do next,”
Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger said there was too much at stake to play “that old switcheroo game.” for Mr. Trump.
“I don’t understand the point,” he said. “I don’t understand what’s being done, why, unless it’s just to create chaos and show power and get angry because you lost the election.”
Since Mr. Trump rejected the offer, Washington was reeling. Fingers pointed to government leaders, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, as senators tried to grasp why they were deceived about the status of Mr. Trump.