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Trump Signs Pandemic Relief Package, Averts a Govt Shutdown After Nearly Weeklong Delay

Trump Signs Pandemic Relief Package, Averts a Govt Shutdown After Nearly Weeklong Delay
With the clock ticking toward a potential U.S. government shutdown, President Donald Trump on 27th December 2020 signed a $2.3 trillion funding measure that includes $900 billion for coronavirus relief and $1.4 trillion for government funding  through next September.   

The president had called the bill “a disgrace” after the House of Representatives and Senate passed it last week, capping months of negotiations in which Trump was little involved.   

The fate of an end-of-year COVID-19 relief and spending bill remained in doubt Sunday as millions lost unemployment aid, the government barreled toward a mid-pandemic shutdown and lawmakers implored President Donald Trump to act.

Trump blindsided members of both parties and upended months of negotiations when he demanded last week that the package — already passed the House and Senate by large margins and believed to have Trump’s support — be revised to include larger relief checks and scaled-back spending. If he continues his opposition, the federal government will run out of money at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday while he spends the holidays golfing in Florida.

On evening of 27th December 2020 , Trump offered the vaguest of updates, tweeting, “Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow!” The White House did not respond to questions about what he meant.

In the face of growing economic hardship and spreading disease, and a looming shutdown lawmakers urged Trump on 27th December 2020 to sign the legislation immediately, then have Congress follow up with additional aid. 

His objections surprised many who thought the president would support the funding measure, and brought a week of calls from Republican and Democratic leaders for him to sign it.  

His foot-dragging resulted in a lapse in unemployment benefits for millions and threatened a government shutdown in the midst of a pandemic. But signing the bill into law prevents another crisis of Trump's own creation and ends a standoff with his own party during the final days of his administration.

Trump said in announcing his signature that he was also insisting on changes to the funding legislation to remove what he called “wasteful items.”  Those demands amount to suggestions to Congress and will not necessarily result in any changes to the bill. 

His main objections to the funding package were what he said were insufficient $600 per person coronavirus relief payments, as well as funding for multiple government programs such as foreign aid and scientific research. 

“As President, I have told Congress that I want far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child,” Trump said in a statement. 

“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 added. 

Democrats have characterized the relief bill as just a first step in their push for a more expansive aid package.    

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Trump for preventing “a government shutdown at a time when our nation could not have afforded one.”

He further added that “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. 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

“We need to ensure robust support for state and local government to distribute and administer a vaccine, keep workers employed and prevent devastating service cuts – and we must do so as soon as possible,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Pelosi called Trump’s veto “an act of staggering recklessness that harms our troops.”

Trump has criticized the defense bill on several fronts which read as follows:

  • He argued without explanation that the bill benefits China. 
  • He has demanded the removal of language that allows for the renaming of military bases that honor Confederate leaders who seceded from the United States in the 1860s. 
  • He has also demanded the addition of a provision making it easier to sue social media companies over content posted by their users.        

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