President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday took President Donald Trump to task over his refusal so far to sign a coronavirus stimulus package with unemployment benefits for millions set to expire and government funding in limbo.
In a statement, Biden slammed Trump for holding up the roughly $900 billion in aid for Americans suffering from economic damage caused by the pandemic, calling the delay an “abdication of responsibility” on the president’s part.
“It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority,” Biden said. “This bill is critical. It needs to be signed into law now.”
After the passage of the bill, the president threatened to wield his veto power if the aid package didn’t contain $2,000 stimulus checks for individuals.
Currently the bill includes $600 in direct payments to millions of households, an extended eviction moratorium and expanded unemployment benefits.
House Republicans broke with Trump on Thursday and blocked a measure by House Democrats that would have provided the $1,400 in additional funds for every American making under $75,000.
Those close to Trump have signaled that he is increasingly dug in on the issue.
“I am convinced he is more determined than ever to increase stimulus payments to $2000 per person,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted after golfing with Trump in Florida on Christmas Day.
Trump offered little hope on Saturday that he’d sign the bill as he raged against a long list of frequent targets in a tweetstorm, including the Supreme Court, FBI and Justice Department.
“I simply want to get out great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill,” he tweeted.
The bill, which also includes $1.4 trillion in regular government spending, was sent to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort on Thursday. Without a signature, government funding will run out on Monday night, triggering a shutdown.
Biden also suggested that the bill wouldn’t be the last package of relief, calling it a “down payment” on more action that he plans to take after being inaugurated in January to revive the economy and contain the pandemic.
Trump in turn called Saturday for "common sense" as he chided states for imposing new lockdown restrictions to confront a wave of infections that has led to record levels of hospitalization and death across the country.
"The lockdowns in Democrat run states are absolutely ruining the lives of so many people – Far more than the damage that would be caused by the China Virus," Trump tweeted.
Trump went on to falsely claim that Republican-led states like Florida, many of which have resisted enacting new measures to control a surge of cases, were "open & doing well." Florida reported more than 17,000 new cases and 142 additional deaths over a two-day span on Saturday.
Late Saturday evening he tweeted: "$2000 + $2000 plus other family members. Not $600. Remember, it was China’s fault!"
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