December 29, 2020
While many Americans spent the holiday weekend worrying or grieving about sick friends and relatives, trying to get work, and eating food bank provisions, a peevish President Donald Trump partied and played golf at his private Palm Beach club, Mar-a-Lago.
But even Air Force One couldn’t get him far enough away from the problems he had created in the nation’s capital. Both Democratic and Republican party leaders pressured Trump to sign two bills he had left on his desk and threatened to veto—a major coronavirus stimulus package and an annual spending bill.
Trump had not participated in the talks leading up to passage of the COVID-19 aid legislation, but had indicated to his surrogate, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, that he would approve a bill that offered direct stimulus checks of $600 to the American people.
Indeed, Mnuchin promised that, once the bill passed, the $600 stimulus checks could be expected to reach Americans by this week. Meanwhile, unemployment programs established earlier this year expired on Saturday night.
But it didn’t happen. According to a report by Politico, Trump spent the weekend railing against the current package, tweeting that he wanted to “increase payments to the people, get rid of the ‘pork’” and “$2000 + $2000 plus other family members. Not $600. Remember, [COVID] was China’s fault!”
Hoping go change his mind and convince him to sign off on the legislation, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and several Republican senators, including Senators David Perdue (R-Georgia) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina.), spoke to Trump multiple times through Sunday night.
But on Sunday evening after days of being lobbied by allies and warned that he would decimate his own political legacy , Trump decided to sign the bill and not leave office amid a maelstrom of expired benefits and a government shutdown, Politico said.
“I will sign the omnibus and COVID package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed. 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 on Sunday night.
The president also said the Senate would soon begin work on ending legal protections for tech companies, examining voter fraud and boosting the check size for direct payments. The current Congress ends in six days.
The House will move ahead with a vote Monday on boosting direct payments to $2,000, forcing Republicans to go on the record against the president.
“I applaud President Trump’s decision to get hundreds of billions of dollars of crucial COVID-19 relief out the door and into the hands of American families as quickly as possible,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement that did not mention the commitments Trump said the Senate has made.
Research contact: @politico