Trump takes aim at Covid stimulus bill, raising specter of veto
President Donald Trump on Tuesday blew up the $ 900 billion coronavirus bailout package passed by Congress, calling it a "shame" and calling for changes to the law to increase stimulus payments to Americans.
While Trump did not directly threaten to veto the bill, his message opened up the possibility that he could do so.
In a video the president tweeted Tuesday night, Trump gave a four-minute speech listing his many grievances with the bill - which would send much-needed help to Americans struggling amid the pandemic. Trump explicitly criticized the aid package for containing “wasteful spending” on issues unrelated to Covid-19, only providing $ 600 to individuals and families, and not providing enough emergency aid to small businesses.
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"Among the more than 5,000 pages of this bill, which no one in Congress has read due to its length and complexity, it is referred to as a Covid auxiliary bill, but has almost nothing to do with Covid," said Trump.
The stimulus package was finally passed on Monday evening after bipartisan disputes over the measure. It has $ 1.4 trillion to fund the government through next September and has passed both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. (Should the legislation veto, the government could close next week.)
Trump said the package offered too much money overseas and should include more for American families and small businesses. He called on Congress to amend the bill to increase stimulus payments from $ 600 for individuals and families to $ 2,000 or $ 4,000 for couples.
"Congress found a lot of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests while sending bare essentials to the American people who need it," he said.
The House Democrats quickly took advantage of Trump's call for checks for $ 2,000 and announced plans Tuesday evening to pass a bill later that week.
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi responded to the president's tweet on Tuesday by asking Republicans to refuse to say how much Trump wanted for the stimulus checks.
Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the president wanted for direct controls. Finally, the president has approved $ 2,000 - the Democrats stand ready to unanimously speak out this week. Let's do it! "Pelosi said in a tweet.
Senate minority chairman Chuck Schumer expressed a similar sentiment on Tuesday night, targeting that Republicans had previously blocked 2,000 stimulus checks proposed by the Democrats.
"Trump needs to sign the bill to help the people and keep the government open, and we're excited to see more help that Americans need," Schumer said in a tweet. "Maybe Trump can finally make himself useful and get the Republicans not to block it again."
Democrats will be offering the bill during the pro forma session of the House on Christmas Eve. They will get unanimous approval to pass the proposal and will force a Republican to show up and object in person to stop it.
It is unclear what the exact language of the bill would be, but Republicans are expected to object and bring them into conflict with the president.
Trump ended the speech by suggesting that his administration could be the next administration despite President-elect Joe Biden defeating Trump in the November election. He asked Congress to send him an appropriate bill, otherwise the next government would have to come up with one that he said "maybe" was his.
"I also ask Congress to get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary points in this legislation immediately and send me an appropriate invoice, otherwise the next government will have to deliver an aid package from Covid, and maybe I am too." And we will do it, "said Trump.
Until his remarks on Tuesday, Trump should legally sign the measure so that at least part of the emergency aid could flow quickly. Even if Trump vetoed the bill, Congress passed the mammoth measure with enough votes in both the House and Senate to overturn that veto.
Heather Caygle contributed to this report.
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