Monday, 28 December 2020

Trump finally SIGNS Covid relief bill - but still demands $2,000 checks as he says he will send 'redlined version' back to Congress with list of 'wasteful items' to be removed

 President Donald Trump finally signed the COVID-19 relief bill and government funding package on Sunday night, ending a crisis of his own making that resulted in 14 million Americans losing their unemployment insurance and threatened to shut down the government during a pandemic. 

His signature came after he spent much of the weekend railing against the legislation, demanding the amount of stimulus checks to Americans be tripled and wasteful spending be cut. The president was largely absent while his administration negotiated the details of the final package with Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. 

But, on Sunday night, came Trump's sudden reversal.   


'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 said of signing the legislative package that a week earlier he called a 'disgrace.'

The White House issued a strongly-worded statement from the president with the signing announcement, where Trump said he was sending it back with lines marking out the spending he wants cut.

'I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill,' Trump said in the statement.

But the president doesn't have line item veto power, which the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional. The package was signed into law as it was when Congress passed it last week. 

Additionally, many of the spending items in the federal budget that Trump wants cut were in his original budget request to Congress earlier this year.  

The White House also claimed it was getting other concessions from Capitol Hill, including that the Senate will start the process for $2,000 stimulus checks, will repeal section 230 that gives protections to tech companies from lawsuits, and start investigation into voter fraud. 

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement applauding Trump's signing the $900 billion relief/funding package but made no mention of the three items Trump claimed he was getting the Senate to do.

'I thank the President for signing this relief into law, along with full-year government funding legislation that will continue the rebuilding and modernization of our Armed Forces that his Administration has championed. His leadership has prevented a government shutdown at a time when our nation could not have afforded one,' McConnell said.

'I am glad the American people will receive this much-needed assistance as our nation continues battling this pandemic,' he added. 

Trump's presidency ends in less than a month, on January 20th.   

President Donald Trump finally signed the COVID-19 relief bill and government funding package

President Donald Trump finally signed the COVID-19 relief bill and government funding package

'Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow!' the president tweeted just before 6.30pm and shortly before he signed the bill at Mar-a-Lago

'Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow!' the president tweeted just before 6.30pm and shortly before he signed the bill at Mar-a-Lago

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's statement made no mentions of the Senate action President Trump claimed is coming

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's statement made no mentions of the Senate action President Trump claimed is coming

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday will introduce legislation for the $2,000 stimulus checks, which Trump demanded last week when he issued his surprise veto threat. But it's unclear how such legislation will proceed in the Senate, where several Republicans senators oppose such a large outlay of cash. During negotiations on the final deal, an effort to pass $1,200 stimulus checks failed in the upper chamber. 


Pelosi called on Trump to persuade Republicans in joining Democrats to expand the amount of the relief checks.

'Now, the President must immediately call on Congressional Republicans to end their obstruction and to join him and Democrats in support of our stand-alone legislation to increase direct payment checks to $2,000, which will be brought to the Floor tomorrow. 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,' she said in statement Sunday night. 

Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer issued his own pressure.

'The House will pass a bill to give Americans $2,000 checks. Then I will move to pass it in the Senate. No Democrats will object. Will Senate Republicans?,' he said. 

Additionally, the current session of Congress ends on January 3rd, which leaves very little time on the calendar to get such work done.  

Earlier Sunday night, before leaving his Mar-a-Lago home to have dinner at his Trump International Golf Club, the president hinted at his plans, tweeting: 'Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow!' 

A short time later, a source confirmed to DailyMail.com that Trump signed the bill Sunday evening at Mar-a-Lago.

After signing the bill, Trump still demanded the $2,000 stimulus checks for Americans in a statement that reads: '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. 

Had Trump continued with his threat not to sign the legislation, the federal government would've run out of money at 12:01 am Tuesday.  

In the face of growing economic hardship and spreading disease, lawmakers urged Trump on Sunday to sign the legislation immediately, then have Congress follow up with additional aid. 

Aside from unemployment benefits and relief payments to families, money for vaccine distribution, businesses, cash-starved public transit systems and more is on the line. Protections against evictions also hang in the balance.

Senator Lindsey Graham arrived in Mar-a-Lago to play golf with Trump on Christmas Day and discuss the legislation with the president.

Other Republicans, including House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and several Republican senators spent the weekend working to convince Trump to sign off on the bill, multiple sources told Politico.

Republicans also took to the Sunday morning political shows to pressure Trump to sign the legislation. 

Republican Sen Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said he understood that Trump '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'.

'So I think the best thing to do, as I said, sign this and then make the case for subsequent legislation,' Toomey added during his appearance on 'Fox News Sunday.'

Additionally, the bipartisan group of lawmakers involved in the original negotiations issued a statement earlier Sunday demanding Trump sign the bill or veto it if he didn't like it so Congress could vote on overriding that veto. 

'If your objection to the COVID-19 relief bill will prevent you from signing, please veto it immediately. You've made your position clear and rejecting it quickly will allow those in favor to act before it is too late,' the lawmakers wrote. 

'Never before in your personal, professional, or political life have you been characterized as a man of inaction. Now is not the time to sit idly by - please do the right thing and sign or veto this bill immediately.' 

The group included Republican Senators Mitt Romney and Susan Collins along with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. 

'Relieved that this long-awaited, bipartisan emergency #COVID19 legislation has finally been signed into law. Help is now on the way to workers, families, and small businesses across the country who are desperately in need,' Romney tweeted after Trump signed the measure. 

Trump had demanded the size of the relief checks to be tripled from $600 to $2,000, which the House will vote on Monday

Trump had demanded the size of the relief checks to be tripled from $600 to $2,000, which the House will vote on Monday

In the face of growing economic hardship and spreading disease, lawmakers urged Trump on Sunday to sign the legislation immediately, then have Congress follow up with additional aid. Trump is pictured playing golf at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach Sunday

In the face of growing economic hardship and spreading disease, lawmakers urged Trump on Sunday to sign the legislation immediately, then have Congress follow up with additional aid. Trump is pictured playing golf at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach Sunday

President Donald Trump (left) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (right) headed to the president's West Palm Beach golf club on Christmas morning where Graham talked to Trump about the COVID relief and government funding bill

President Donald Trump (left) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (right) headed to the president's West Palm Beach golf club on Christmas morning where Graham talked to Trump about the COVID relief and government funding bill

Trump's motorcade leaves Mar-a-Lago on the way to golf course
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Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) called on President Trump to get Republicans like Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (right) to help expand the stimulus checks to $2,000


Many Republicans criticized the president on Sunday morning for refusing to sign the package. 

On Saturday, two critical unemployment programs lapsed, ending millions of people's unemployment benefits. While Trump's signature returns the benefits, there could be a delay in the checks coming during the holidays. 

Maryland Gov Larry Hogan, a Republican who's criticized Trump's pandemic response and his efforts to undo the election results. 

'I just gave up guessing what he might do next,' he said.

Republican Rep Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said too much is at stake for Trump to 'play this old switcheroo game'.

'I don't get the point,' he said. '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.' 

Democrats also piled onto the president.

Sen. Bernie Sanders said Trump was behaving as an 'extraordinary narcissist' and was almost 'pathologically narcissistic' in his eleventh-hour crusade against the bill. 

'What the president is doing right now is unbelievably cruel,' Sanders told ABC's 'This Week' host Jonathan Karl in a Sunday interview.

'Many millions of people are losing their extended unemployment benefits,' the independent Vermont senator continued. 'They're going to be evicted from their apartments because the eviction moratorium is ending. We are looking at a way to get the vaccine distributed to tens of millions of people. There's money in that bill.'  

Earlier on Saturday night, the president returned with another round of claims of election fraud in a fiery Twitter tirade in which he concluded 'We will win'.

He blasted the FBI, the U.S. court system and the Department of Justice before declaring that the country's electoral system is 'like that of a third world country'.

Trump called on Republicans to help him fight for the presidency as he took further hits and the press and tech companies amid allegations of voter fraud that U.S. courts and the Justice Department have deemed to be unfounded.

'Time for Republican Senators to step up and fight for the Presidency, like the Democrats would do if they had actually won,' Trump wrote in a Twitter thread.

Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said Sunday morning that Donald Trump is 'unbelievably cruel' for not yet signing the $900 billion in coroanvirus relief and suggesting he could veto the whole package

Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said Sunday morning that Donald Trump is 'unbelievably cruel' for not yet signing the $900 billion in coroanvirus relief and suggesting he could veto the whole package

GOP Sen. Pat Toomey also railed against the president Sunday, claiming he will be remembered for 'chaos and misery and erratic behavior' if he doesn't sign the coroanvirus relief bill that went to his desk last week

GOP Sen. Pat Toomey also railed against the president Sunday, claiming he will be remembered for 'chaos and misery and erratic behavior' if he doesn't sign the coroanvirus relief bill that went to his desk last week

Earlier on Saturday night, President Trump returned with another round of claims of election fraud in a fiery Twitter tirade in which he concluded 'We will win'

Earlier on Saturday night, President Trump returned with another round of claims of election fraud in a fiery Twitter tirade in which he concluded 'We will win'

President-elect Biden pictured here, on his way to church in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday, had called on Trump to sign the legislation

President-elect Biden pictured here, on his way to church in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday, had called on Trump to sign the legislation

'The proof is irrefutable! Massive late night mail-in ballot drops in swing states, stuffing the ballot boxes (on video), double voters, dead voters, ...fake signatures, illegal immigrant voters, banned Republican vote watchers, MORE VOTES THAN ACTUAL VOTERS (check out Detroit & Philadelphia), and much more,' he added, despite his campaign having so far being able to offer no evidence to prove that any of these allegations were true and his lawsuits being dismissed.

'The numbers are far greater than what is necessary to win the individual swing states, and cannot even be contested.... Courts are bad, the FBI and 'Justice' didn't do their job, and the United States Election System looks like that of a third world country,' Trump fumed.

'Freedom of the press has been gone for a long time, it is Fake News, and now we have Big Tech (with Section 230) to deal with.

'But when it is all over, and this period of time becomes just another ugly chapter in our Country's history, WE WILL WIN!!!' the president concluded.

President-elect Joe Biden had called on Trump to sign the bill immediately as the midnight Saturday deadline neared for two federal programs providing unemployment aid.

'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 in a statement. 

He accused Trump of an 'abdication of responsibility' that has 'devastating consequences.'

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