'Devastating consequences': Biden blasts Trump for not signing COVID relief bill before unemployment aid lapses
Amid a spate of tweets criticizing everything from the Supreme Court to the Justice Department, President Donald Trump reiterated his displeasure with the COVID relief package, pushing for a $ 1,400 increase over what Republican and Democratic leaders negotiated and left that Status of the law uncertain as unemployment benefits expire for millions.
"I just want to bring in our great people $ 2,000 instead of the meager $ 600 that is now on the bill," Trump tweeted on Saturday morning. "Also stop the billions of dollars in 'pork'."
President-elect Joe Biden sharply criticized Trump's refusal to sign the non-partisan stimulus bill, calling it a "waiver of responsibility" with "devastating consequences" in a statement on Saturday.
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"It's a day after Christmas and millions of families don't know if they can make ends meet because President Donald Trump refuses to sign an overwhelming, bipartisan Congress-approved economic relief bill," Biden said .
As Trump's criticism has cast doubt on the future of the relief bill, the temporary unemployment benefit approved in response to the pandemic expires at midnight on Saturday and threatens to expire the aid. If the president doesn't sign the new relief law by the end of the day on Saturday, states will be unable to resume these benefits for a full week, effectively shortening the aid extension from 11 weeks to 10 weeks.
Biden beat up Trump for letting the benefits lapse.
"This waiver of responsibility is devastating. Today, approximately 10 million Americans will lose unemployment insurance benefits," Biden said. "In just a few days, government funds will run out, jeopardizing vital services and paychecks for military personnel. In less than a week, an eviction moratorium will expire that puts millions at risk of being evicted from their homes over the holidays."
Lauren Bauer, an economics scholar at the Brookings Institution, has calculated that 11 million people would immediately lose aid from programs without additional relief. Millions more would deplete other unemployment benefits within weeks.
Andrew Stettner, unemployment insurance expert and senior fellow in the Century Foundation think tank, said the number could be closer to 14 million as unemployment has risen since Thanksgiving.
While payments could come in retrospectively, any loophole means more hardship and uncertainty for Americans already grappling with bureaucratic delays and often using up much of their savings staying afloat while waiting for payments to occur.
They're people like Earl McCarthy, a father of four who lives in South Fulton, Georgia and has been in need of unemployment since he lost his job as a salesman for a luxury senior citizen community. He said he would have no income by the second week of January if Trump doesn't sign the bill.
McCarthy said he had already used up much of his savings while waiting five months to receive his unemployment benefit. After leaving weekly messages at the Employment Agency, McCarthy turned to the South Fulton Mayor's office and then to his legislative representative for help. In November he finally got payments.
"I shudder to think if I hadn't saved anything or had an emergency fund in these five months, where would we have been?" he said. "It will be difficult if the president doesn't sign this bill."
The bill, awaiting Trump's signature, would also enable a weekly unemployment benefit surcharge of $ 300.
Trump denounced the $ 900 billion aid package on Tuesday for the first time and called it a "shame" in a video posted on Twitter.
"It's called the COVID Relief Bill, but it has almost nothing to do with COVID," Trump said in the video. "I'm asking Congress to change this bill and increase the ridiculously low $ 600 to $ 2,000 or $ 4,000 for a couple."
More: Donald Trump calls for major economic reviews as part of the $ 900 billion COVID-19 aid package passed by Congress
The $ 600 direct payments were one of the compromises Republicans and Democrats made in negotiating the contents of the aid package. Most Democrats wanted bigger payments like the $ 1,200 payments Americans received as part of the last big stimulus package.
The White House also assured GOP leaders that the president would support bipartisan legislation, including the $ 600 direct payments that Republicans had approved.
Trump's refusal to sign this bill any further delayed the first COVID relief in months of Congress and repeatedly failed to unite another stimulus package, even though much of the measures and aid came to an end.
More: Trump apologizes for Papadopoulos and former Republican members of Congress in a series of grace grants
Trump also tweeted about the Christmas direct payments, asking why politicians wouldn't give Americans $ 2,000.
"I made a lot of calls and met at Trump International in Palm Beach, Florida," Trump said after a round of golf on Friday. "Why should politicians not want to give people $ 2,000 but only $ 600? It wasn't their fault, it was China. Give the money to our people!"
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi tweeted at a rare moment of agreement with the president: "Finally the president has approved $ 2,000. The Democrats are ready to unanimously speak out this week. Let's do it!"
House Republicans blocked the Democrats' attempt to unanimously increase the direct payment from $ 600 to $ 2,000 on Thursday. Now the fate of the direct payments, along with the rest of the package, remains uncertain in session until at least next week when Congress is back.
More: $ 2,000 stimulus checks pending as Congress fails to agree on COVID aid payments
Not only did Trump want to increase direct payments, in his video on Tuesday, Trump called on Congress to "get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary elements of this legislation and send me an appropriate bill".
In the same video shared on Twitter, Trump suggested not only not to sign the bipartisan stimulus package, but also to veto the $ 1.4 trillion spending bill attached to the auxiliary bill if the direct payments fail increase.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried to bail out the year-end legislation to prevent a shutdown.
The Democrats will call House lawmakers back to Washington on Monday to vote on Trump's $ 2,000 proposal, though he would likely die in the Republican-controlled Senate. They are also considering a vote on Monday on a stop gap measure to at least prevent a federal shutdown and keep the government going until Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
Featuring: Jessica Menton, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared TODAY in the US: Biden criticizes Trump for relying on stimulus after unemployment benefits expired
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