Trump can't let go of his quest for revenge against Republicans who he believes betrayed him, even if it means blowing up the stimulus bill
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump leave the west wing of the White House on December 23, 2020. Toni L. Sandys / The Washington Post via Getty Images
On Tuesday evening, President Donald Trump questioned the future of the $ 900 billion stimulus package, which was carefully negotiated by Congress and passed on Monday.
Trump said he believed the bill was wasteful and sending $ 600 checks to ordinary Americans wasn't enough. The amount should be $ 2,000.
But some Republicans saw a different motive. CNN quoted an anonymous GOP official who said Trump had thrown a "tantrum" over the bill to punish Republicans who did not support his offer to overthrow the election.
The bill has enough support from both parties to override a potential Trump veto and pass it in its current form. Alternatively, lawmakers could approve a new bill that includes the $ 2,000 checks requested by Trump.
Trump's intervention means Americans may not get their direct payment checks next week as many expected.
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President Donald Trump claims to reject the $ 900 COVID-19 stimulus bill because it is wasteful and the direct payment checks to ordinary Americans are not big enough.
But there may be another reason Trump is deeply concerned about and underlying the attack - a desire for vengeance on a Republican Party he believes betrayed in an impossible attempt to overturn the result of the presidential election .
The president's attack on the bill - made via a video posted on Twitter on Tuesday - opened a rift between Republicans in Congress and the White House. House Republicans on Thursday blocked a Democratic move to include the $ 2,000 checks requested by Trump.
"The Trump tantrum has nothing to do with check size or spending - he was fully aware of the negotiations being conducted on his behalf by [Chief of Staff Mark] Meadows and [Treasury Secretary Steven] Mnuchin and never said peep," an unnamed GOP Official said CNN's Jake Tapper after Trump attacked the bill.
"When it comes to venting anger and seeking vengeance while millions lose unemployment the day after Christmas and millions lose homes and millions of small businesses go under, there is no competition: ego always comes first."
Politico's Playbook PM newsletter on Wednesday also reported on speculation among people close to Trump and lawmakers that "this whole tantrum was due to Republicans leaving him voting in the electoral college and recognizing that his presidency is over".
According to the Washington Post, the White House took angry calls from Republicans on Wednesday as Trump left to spend the Christmas vacation at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
They wanted to know why administrative officials told them the president supported the law and asked them to vote for it only to be abandoned, the Post said.
Trump showed little interest in the stimulus package while it was being negotiated as he pursued his false claims about election fraud. Senior government officials told Republican lawmakers during the negotiations that the president supported the position of the GOP's congressional leadership and encouraged them to vote for the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks while Minority House Chairman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), U.S. President Donald Trump, during a signing ceremony for HR 748, the CARES bill, on Listening in the Oval Office of the White House March 27. 2020 in Washington, DC.
Trump's Tuesday video threatening to blow up the bill surprised Republicans.
According to The Post, Trump has complained that McConnell hasn't done enough to help him in his attempt to overturn the election. McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, chairman of the minority House of Representatives, were blind on Tuesday night, according to the report from Trump's video.
It's not the first time this week that Trump has taken action to harm Republican leadership. The president upset Senator Mitch McConnell in an email to Republicans Monday after the Senate majority leader recognized Biden's status as president-elect last week.
An adviser to the president told Axios that Trump is desperate to hold onto attention as Biden's inauguration approaches, and is trying to maintain his hold on the GOP after losing power by punishing Republicans he claims considers disloyal.
Earlier this week, Axios also reported that Trump was furious with top officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who he believes is not fighting hard enough to support his claims of election fraud.
Republicans' credibility on stimulus measures isn't the only issue at stake for the party after the president's shock attack. The party faces crucial Senate control elections in the Georgia runoff on January 5.
The failure of the Congressional GOP and the White House to work together to get a bill through could harm the party's candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
Read more: EXCLUSIVE: A MP from Eric Trump helped his family build a campaign shell company to protect the president from attack. But the secret operation turned into a mystery - even to the best of the Trump campaign.
What now for the business cycle?
The future of the stimulus package is unclear.
If the bill is not passed, millions of unemployed Americans will lose federal unemployment benefits on December 26th, while a moratorium on evictions included in the bill does not go into effect, leaving many people homeless.
If Congress decides to negotiate Trump's calls for the $ 2,000 stimulus check - as top Democrats and progressive lawmakers have suggested - it could take days to negotiate and approve them.
Some Republicans who have been opposed to higher direct payments for weeks now face the unpleasant prospect of voting against their president if a Democrat-sponsored bill calling for it makes it to the Senate.
Trump has ten days to decide whether to legally sign the stimulus package or veto it by sending it back to Congress without a signature.
Trump at the White House on December 7, 2020. Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP via Getty Images
Trump has not said whether he will veto the stimulus package, but he has the power to do so. If he takes this step, the whole process could be pushed back for weeks.
Delaying a decision could also have the same effect as a veto: As Fox News' Chad Pergram tweeted, after the January 3 congressional session, if Trump does not make a decision, a presidential veto will automatically take effect.
Congress could still override a potential Trump veto as the stimulus bill had enough votes in the House and Senate Monday night to surpass the two-thirds majority required to overturn a president's veto.
However, if lawmakers have to vote to overturn a veto, many Republicans face the damaging position of opposing their own president, and the unity and credibility of the GOP is likely to be damaged.
Another major concern is the December 28 deadline when the emergency government solution that was passed to enable the stimulus package to be negotiated will expire.
This means that if the coronavirus pandemic breaks through the country and the economic recovery falters, large swaths of the U.S. government could begin to shut down.
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