Trump threat could force closure, unemployment could end

President Donald Trump at the United Nations, September 24, 2019.

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

President Donald Trump’s opposition to a coronavirus and a federal finance bill already passed by Congress threatens to set fire to unemployment benefits for millions of Americans and shut down the government amid a deadly public health crisis.

After weeks of not being involved in Congress’ efforts to pass another aid package, outgoing President shocked Washington Tuesday night by calling the bill a “disgrace” and pushing lawmakers to direct payments of $ 600 to $ 2,000.

While he did not explicitly say whether he would veto the bill or simply refuse to sign it, Trump said the “next administration will have to deliver a Covid aid package” if Congress doesn’t send him revised legislation.

Any delay in introducing the measure threatens the financial ruin of already struggling Americans. The $ 900 billion coronavirus relief portion of the bill extends the pandemic-era unemployment benefits extension to 12 million people. The provisions expire Saturday – the day after Christmas.

The $ 1.4 trillion in credits from the legislation would keep the federal government running through September 30. The government would close on Tuesday if it doesn’t become law before then.

A federal deportation moratorium – which would extend the legislation through Jan. 31 – would expire at the end of the year. Tens of millions of people are at risk of losing their homes if the measure is allowed to lapse.

With Congress unable to provide new federal aid for most of the year, millions of people fell into poverty. The package would send temporary relief in the form of a $ 300 weekly federal unemployment benefit through mid-March, the $ 600 payments and $ 284 billion in small business loans from the Paycheck Protection Program. It also includes more than $ 8 billion for Covid vaccine distribution, $ 25 billion for rental assistance, $ 82 billion for education, and $ 45 billion for transportation – including funds to help airlines retain employees.

If Trump vetoes the bill, Congress could reconvene after Christmas to override it. The measure passed both chambers with a veto right. Lawmakers have already made plans for the option to return if the president vetoes a national defense law.

Since it takes days for Congress to formally send Trump a bill of that size – 5,593 pages – it hasn’t even reached his desk yet. The president could scrap the legislation through a so-called pocket veto if it doesn’t reach him until Thursday or later. He could leave the entire 10-day period to sign the bill (excluding Sundays) before the new session of Congress begins on January 3.

Trump had weeks to shape the bill to his liking before Congress wrote and approved the bailout package and left Washington for the holiday. Instead, he spent the past six weeks of conspiracy theories that widespread fraud cost him the November 3 presidential race against President-elect Joe Biden.

Democrats welcome bigger stimulus controls

Democrats would have welcomed an earlier push for $ 2,000 direct payments from Trump as Republicans sought to limit the size of the spending package. Indeed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., quickly backed a check for $ 2,000 on Tuesday night. They supported it as a measure separate from the $ 900 billion bailout package.

They still want the president to sign that bill into law. Before Trump changed his tone, his own Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, signed off on the $ 600 payments. Republican congressional leaders did not initially check as part of the final round of talks.

House Democrats hope to unanimously approve $ 2,000 payments in a pro-forma session on Thursday. Any representative who decides to return to the Capitol on Christmas Eve can block the measure. The GOP Senate cannot approve it, even if the House approves it.

If the president really wants to join us with $ 2,000 payments, he has to appeal [House Minority] Leader [Kevin] McCarthy to agree to our request for unanimous consent, ”Pelosi wrote to House Democrats on Wednesday.

“The whole country knows that it is urgent for the president to sign this bill, both to alleviate the coronavirus and to keep the government open.”

Senate leader Mitch McConnell’s office has not commented on Trump’s game. However, at least one member of the Kentucky Republican Party caucus was behind Trump’s push to make $ 2,000 payments.

Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., tweeted on Wednesday that he would back the provision, along with a conservative move to remove legal liability for internet platforms.

“Let’s vote,” he said.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Had joined Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And pushed for $ 1,200 direct payments in financial statements for emergency relief. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Who was one of six Republican senators who voted against the package, blocked both lawmakers’ attempts to approve the checks.

Sanders and other progressives embraced Trump’s new call for greater direct payments. On Tuesday night, the Vermont senator – who supported a $ 2,000 monthly payment proposal at the start of the pandemic – urged Trump to “get Mitch McConnell and your Republican friends to stop opposing” a bigger check.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., noted that she and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Have already written a bill for payments of $ 2,000.

Despite their support for bigger controls, some Democrats still questioned Trump’s motives for pushing them now after the legislative talks.

“Trump had no interest in the negotiations at all. None. It was his own party that insisted that the checks be $ 600,” tweeted Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn. Wednesday.

“If you think he cares how big the checks are, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. This is just a middle finger to America on the way out. ‘

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