A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Sunday urged President Donald Trump to sign the bill funding the government and providing economic relief to a nation still reeling from the deadly coronavirus.
After months of inaction, Congress last week passed a $900 billion relief package and a $1.4 trillion spending bill to fund the government through September. The stimulus package included $600 direct payments to individuals and families, enhanced unemployment benefits, small business aid and funding for distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The fate of that bill, however, is up in the air after Trump trashed the legislation and called for $2,000 stimulus checks. Unemployment benefits for millions of Americans expired Saturday, and the federal government is poised to shut down Monday unless Trump signs the bill. Should the president veto the bill, the House and Senate — which both passed the legislation by overwhelming margins — could override the veto.
“You don’t get everything you want, even if you’re the president of the United States,” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Toomey, who isn’t seeking reelection in 2022, said Trump should sign the legislation and then make his case to Congress for larger stimulus checks.
“I understand he wants to be remembered for advocating for big checks, but the danger is he’ll be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior if he allows this to expire,” Toomey warned.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called Trump’s inaction “unbelievably cruel,” noting the lapsed unemployment benefits and expiring eviction moratorium.
“Sign the bill, Mr. President, and then immediately, Monday, Tuesday, we can pass a $2,000 direct payment to the working families of this country,” Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week.”
If Trump fails to sign the bill today, Sanders predicted, “The suffering of this country will be immense.”
More than 18 million Americans have been infected with Covid-19, which has killed 332,000 people in the U.S. And Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, cautioned Sunday that the U.S. could see “a surge upon a surge” of more infections after Christmas and New Year’s.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) lamented that Trump didn’t push for the larger stimulus payments on the front end of negotiations. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was believed to have been negotiating on behalf of the president. Like Toomey and Sanders, Kinzinger, too, suggested conversations about $2,000 stimulus checks should occur after the president signs the bill.
“Because right now, we’re at a point where people are left out in the dark,” he explained on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But to play this old switcharoo game, which is just kind of like, I don’t get the point, I don’t understand what’s being done, why — unless it’s just to create chaos and show power and be upset because you lost the election. Otherwise I don’t understand it because this just has to get done. Too many people are relying on this.”
Reps.-elect Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) endorsed the $2,000 stimulus checks in a joint interview on CNN. Bush called the $600 payments “crumbs” and “a slap in the face to people who are suffering.”
But Bowman argued that the president is simply “posturing” after suffering what he said was “a malignant narcissist harm by losing the election.” “And now he’s posturing to make himself, to bring himself back as the hero of the American people asking for $2,000,” he added.
“The president is the embodiment of everything that’s wrong with this country,” Bowman said. “He’s a privileged person who rose to power as a reality TV star, and now he’s trying to drive this country into chaos. I can’t wait for him to be out of office.”
Even with the president backing the proposal, it’s unclear $2,000 stimulus checks could pass the Republican-led Senate. Toomey indicated most Republicans won’t support the measure because it’s “terribly untargeted.”
“Why would we be sending $2,000 to people with a six-figure income who’ve had no suspension, no reduction of their income at all?” he asked. “This money isn’t sitting on a shelf. We’re gonna print it or we’re gonna borrow it, and I think that the aid should be much, much more targeted. It should be targeted to people who’ve actually lost their job. Small businesses that are actually in danger of going under. Those are very real categories. The numbers are significant.”
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