Trump Signs COVID-19 Relief, Spending Bill To Avert Government Shutdown

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President Trump on Sunday signed the $2.3 trillion government funding and coronavirus relief package, averting a government shutdown and delivering economic aid, days after expressing displeasure with the pork-filled omnibus bill.

“I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed,” Trump said in a statement upon signing the legislation from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. “I am signing this bill to restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP, return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more.”

Trump stated he will send back to Congress a “redlined” version of the bill “insisting that those funds be removed from the bill.” However, Democrats immediately responded that they will ignore his request.

“President Trump has indicated that he will now send a rescissions package to Congress that aims to reverse funding his own administration requested and undo the careful bipartisan agreement he has just signed,” House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) said in a statement. “The House Appropriations Committee has jurisdiction over rescissions, and our Democratic Majority will reject any rescissions submitted by President Trump. By turning the page on this request, we will allow the Biden-Harris Administration to begin to Build Back Better.”

The House will vote on Monday on legislation to increase $600 direct relief check to $2,000, an amount payment Trump demanded that Congress amend, which many Democrats are backing but is unlikely to pass in both chambers. Democrats on Thursday attempted to get a stand-alone bill approved but one Republicans rejected the move to pass by an unanimous consent. Pelosi said she would bring the bill for a roll call vote on Monday when they are scheduled to return to override Trump’s veto on the NDAA defense bill.

On Tuesday, Trump slammed the combined legislation, blasting it as a “wasteful spending” package and a “disgrace” that he stated “has almost nothing to do with COVID.”

“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 dollars for a couple,” Trump said in the video blasting the package last Tuesday before heading to Mar-a-Lago. “I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package.”

However, the hesitation to sign the legislation from Trump resulted in two pandemic-related unemployment programs that expired on Saturday night.

Both the House and the Senate last Monday voted to pass the combined $2.3 trillion package after months of inaction from Congress. The combined bill includes $1.4 trillion in government spending to fund federal agencies through the end of the fiscal year in September and $900 billion in coronavirus pandemic relief.

The relief package includes direct payments of $600, an amount that is half the $1,200 payments initially provided under the CARES Act enacted in March. The bill also includes $300 per week in enhanced federal unemployment benefits until March 14, as well as more than $284 billion in loans for businesses through the popular Paycheck Protection Program and $15 billion grant program of “dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), in a statement, ignored Trump’s demand that Congress rescinding some parts of the bill’s funding, as well as his claim that the House would focus on “voter fraud,” instead calling the relief bill a “down payment on what is needed to crush the virus.” 

But Pelosi indicated that the House is sticking to its plan to hold Monday’s vote, and urged Trump to pressure GOP lawmakers to support changing the amount of the direct checks. 

“Every Republican vote against this bill is a vote to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny the American people the relief they need,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) applauded Trump for signing the package and preventing a shutdown “at a time when our nation could not have afforded one,” but made no mention of the legislative commitments referenced by the president.

“I applaud President Trump’s decision to get hundreds of billions of dollars of crucial COVID-19 relief out the door and into the hands of American families as quickly as possible.,” McConnell said in a statement. “The bipartisan rescue package that Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration negotiated with the Democrats will extend another major lifeline to workers at struggling small businesses, renew major relief for laid-off Americans, invest billions more in vaccine distribution, send cash directly to households, and more. I am glad the American people will receive this much-needed assistance as our nation continues battling this pandemic.”

In addition to the increased size of stimulus relief checks, Congress has promised that Section 230 liability, a provision in the Communications Decency Act which shields social media companies will be “reviewed and either be terminated or substantially reformed” and that the House and Senate have agreed to launch an investigation into potential voter fraud in the presidential election.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) confirmed that Congress will vote on “additional stimulus checks and repealing Section 230,” calling the moves “all wins for the American people.”

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