Donald Trump threatens to VETO relief bill demanding Congress increase checks from $600 to $2,000

President Donald Trump seemed to threaten Tuesday to veto the COVID-19 stimulus package that Congress passed almost 24 hours earlier, telling lawmakers to boost checks for Americans to $2,000 and make other modifications after sitting out talks for months. 

Trump said ‘it’s taken forever’ to get a package and the bill passed ‘is much different than anticipated.’

‘It really is a disgrace,’ he added.

‘Send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package and maybe that administration will be me and we will get it done,’ Trump also said, as he continues to refuse to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden.

The demands came minutes after the White House released a list of Trump’s latest pardons, including former GOP lawmakers Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins.  

Both houses easily had passed the bill – 359-53 in the House and 91-7 in the Senate – both far above the two-thirds which would be needed  to override a veto. 

'It's a disgrace.' Trump tweeted an address from the White House to rail against a bill passed by both parties in both chambers with overwhelming support

'It's a disgrace.' Trump tweeted an address from the White House to rail against a bill passed by both parties in both chambers with overwhelming support

‘It’s a disgrace.’ Trump tweeted an address from the White House to rail against a bill passed by both parties in both chambers with overwhelming support

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi helped lead negotiations over the $900billion relief package that will send $600 to most Americans

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi helped lead negotiations over the $900billion relief package that will send $600 to most Americans

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi helped lead negotiations over the $900billion relief package that will send $600 to most Americans

The package also easily passed the Senate, led by Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell. It now goes to President Trump for his signature

Trump ran through a laundry list of provisions in the appropriations bill, which is attached to the COVID measure.

He ran through periodic pet peeves of individual programs that are often targets in floor debates – though some have justifications that he glossed over.

He called out $40 million dollars for the Kennedy Center ‘in Washington, DC, which is not even open for business.’ The venue, like others is struggling in part due to the fact that it is closed due to the coronavirus.

Hours earlier, Trump named his senior advisor, Hope Hicks, to serve on the Kennedy Center’s board.

Trump also railed against funding to research ‘downed trees’ – although earlier in his term, he blasted California for allegedly failing to properly manage forests within its borders.

He also called out $1 billion for the Smithsonian and funds for the National Gallery of Art, noting the facilities are ‘essentially not open.’

He also ridiculed $7 million for reef fish management and $25 million to combat Asian carp.

According to Trump’s own Agriculture Department, Asian carp, which are not native to the U.S., ‘are causing issues in the Mississippi river and surrounding waters. Asian carp are fast-growing and prolific feeders that out-compete native fish and leave a trail of environmental destruction in their wake.’

He also blasted $566 million for construction projects at the FBI – which has been seeking to relocate from its downtown Washington DC offices, located across from Trump’s hotel.

He blasted ‘wasteful spending – and much more.’

He complained the package gave ‘hardworking taxpayers with only $600 each in relief payments’ – despite his own allies raising concerns about the impact on the debt of the bill. 

Trump also said ‘not enough money is given to small businesses and in particular restaurants whose owners have suffered so grievously.’  

The Trump administration had pushed for what’s being dubbed the ‘three martini lunch’ provision to be added to the bill. ‘

Now Trump complained that the deduction lasted for only two years.     

There were Republicans and Democrats pushing for larger $1,200 checks. He called the $600 amount ‘ridiculously low.’

He called on Congress to nix ‘wasteful and unnecessary items’ from the legislation.

Trump said he wanted Congress to give individual Americans $2,000 and couples $4,000 in a revised version of the package.  

The speech had echoes of the one high-profile attack on it in Congress, when Senator Rand Paul had attacked his own party for voting for it saying they are ‘no better than Democrats’. 

He told the Senate Monday afternoon: ‘To so-called conservatives who are quick to identify the socialism of Democrats: If you vote for this spending monstrosity, you are no better.’ 

Lawmakers tacked on a $1.4 trillion catchall spending bill and thousands of pages of other end-of-session business in a massive bundle of bipartisan legislation as Capitol Hill prepared to close the books on the year.  

Paul added: ‘If free money was the answer, if money really did grow on trees, why not give more free money? Why not give it out all the time? Why stop at $600 a person? Why not $1,000? Why not $2,000? 

‘Maybe these new Free-Money Republicans should join the Everybody-Gets-A-Guaranteed-Income Caucus? Why not $20,000 a year for everybody, why not $30,000? If we can print out money with impunity, why not do it?’  

Senator Rand Paul had attacked his own party for voting for the relief package saying they are 'no better than Democrats'. He said: 'To so-called conservatives who are quick to identify the socialism of Democrats: If you vote for this spending monstrosity, you are no better'

Senator Rand Paul had attacked his own party for voting for the relief package saying they are 'no better than Democrats'. He said: 'To so-called conservatives who are quick to identify the socialism of Democrats: If you vote for this spending monstrosity, you are no better'

Senator Rand Paul had attacked his own party for voting for the relief package saying they are ‘no better than Democrats’. He said: ‘To so-called conservatives who are quick to identify the socialism of Democrats: If you vote for this spending monstrosity, you are no better’

The lopsided 359-53 House vote and 91-7 Senate tally was a bipartisan coda to months of partisanship and politicking as lawmakers wrangled over the relief question, a logjam that broke after President-elect Joe Biden urged his party to accept a compromise with top Republicans that is smaller than many Democrats would have liked.

Paul was joined by Sens. Rick Scott, Mike Lee, Marsha Blackburn, Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson in voting against the package.  

He said: ‘When you vote to pass out free money, you lose your soul and you abandon forever any semblance of moral or fiscal integrity.’ 

The relief package, unveiled Monday afternoon, sped through Congress in a matter of hours.

When to Expect Your Relief Check – if Trump Signs

 Direct checks to Americans could start hitting accounts shortly after Jan. 1, now that Congress has passed the relief package. 

Additionally, the relief could come quicker than it did in the first round earlier this year, as millions have verified their information on the IRS’s ‘Get My Payment’ site.

Those receiving paper checks would get their money in the coming weeks.

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The bill combines coronavirus-fighting funds with financial relief for individuals and businesses. 

It would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants, and theaters and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction.

The 5,593-page legislation – by far the longest bill ever – came together Sunday after months of battling, posturing and postelection negotiating that reined in a number of Democratic demands as the end of the congressional session approached. 

Biden was eager for a deal to deliver long-awaited help to suffering people and a boost to the economy, even though it was less than half the size that Democrats wanted in the fall.

‘This deal is not everything I want – not by a long shot,’ said Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., a longstanding voice in the party´s old-school liberal wing. 

‘The choice before us is simple. It´s about whether we help families or not. It´s about whether we help small businesses and restaurants or not. It´s about whether we boost (food stamp) benefits and strengthen anti-hunger programs or not. And whether we help those dealing with a job loss or not. To me, this is not a tough call.’

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a key negotiator, said on CNBC Monday morning that the direct payments would begin arriving in bank accounts next week.

Democrats promised more aid to come once Biden takes office, but Republicans were signaling a wait-and-see approach.

COVID Stimulus Bill Breakdown 

 The $900billion stimulus plan Congress approved Monday would provide direct aid to citizens as well as aid to businesses.

Provisions include:

  • Direct payments of $600 to most adults and $600 per child. The check amount decreases for those who earned more than $75,000 in the 2019 tax year, and will not go out at all to those who made more than 99,000
  • A $300 unemployment supplement while retaining pandemic-era programs that expanded unemployment insurance eligibility. The benefit could kick in by Dec. 27 and run through March 14
  • $284 billion for government payroll loans, including expanded eligibility for nonprofits and local newspapers and TV and radio broadcasters. This includes $15 billion for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions and $20 billion for targeted disaster grants
  • $82 billion for colleges and schools, including support for heating-and-cooling systems upgrades to mitigate virus transmission and reopen classrooms, and $10 billion for child care assistance
  • $45 billion for transportation assistance, including $15 billion to U.S. passenger airlines for payroll assistance, $14 billion for transit systems, $10 billion for state highway funding and $1 billion for Amtrak passenger railroad
  • $25 billion for rental assistance for families struggling to stay in their homes, and an extension of the eviction moratorium.
  • $26 billion for food/farm assistance. Increases food stamp benefits by 15% and provides funding to food banks, Meals on Wheels and other food aid. Provides an equal amount ($13 billion) in aid to farmers and ranchers.
  • Expanded Pell Grants for college tuition, which would reach 500,000 new recipients and provide the maximum benefit for more than 1.5 million students
  • Provides $10 billion to the Child Care Development Block Grant to help families with child care costs and help providers cover increased operating costs.
  • $7 billion for broadband internet access, including $1.9 billion to replace telecom network equipment that poses national security risks
  • $4 billion for an international vaccine alliance
  • Forgives a $10 billion loan to the Postal Service provided in earlier relief legislation
  • Contains bipartisan legislation to protect consumers from huge surprise medical bills after receiving treatment from out-of-network providers
  • Extends a variety of expiring tax breaks, including lower excise taxes of crafter brewers and distillers. Renewable energy sources would see tax breaks extended, as would motorsport facilities, and people making charitable contributions. Business meals would be 100% deductible through 2022

 

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The measure would fund the government through September, wrapping a year’s worth of action on annual spending bills into a single package that never saw Senate committee or floor debate.

The legislation followed a tortured path. Democrats played hardball up until Election Day, amid accusations that they wanted to deny Trump a victory that might help him prevail. 

Democrats denied that, but their demands indeed became more realistic after Trump’s loss and as Biden made it clear that half a loaf was better than none.

The final bill bore ample resemblance to a $1 trillion package put together by Senate Republican leaders in July, a proposal that at the time was scoffed at by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as way too little.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took a victory lap after blocking far more ambitious legislation from reaching the Senate floor. He said the pragmatic approach of Biden was key.

‘A few days ago, with a new president-elect of their own party, everything changed. Democrats suddenly came around to our position that we should find consensus, make law where we agree, and get urgent help out the door,’ McConnell said.

On direct payments, the bill provides $600 to individuals making up to $75,000 per year and $1,200 to couples making up to $150,000, with payments phased out for higher incomes. An additional $600 payment will be made per dependent child, similar to the last round of relief payments in the spring.

The $300 per week bonus jobless benefit was half the supplemental federal unemployment benefit provided under the $1.8 billion CARES Act in March. That more generous benefit and would be limited to 11 weeks instead of 16 weeks. The direct $600 stimulus payment was also half the March payment.

The CARES Act was credited with keeping the economy from falling off a cliff during widespread lockdowns in the spring, but Republicans controlling the Senate cited debt concerns in pushing against Democratic demands.

‘Anyone who thinks this bill is enough hasn´t heard the desperation in the voices of their constituents, has not looked into the eyes of the small-business owner on the brink of ruin,’ said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, a lifelong New Yorker who pushed hard for money helping his city’s transit systems, renters, theaters and restaurants.

Progress came after a bipartisan group of pragmatists and moderates devised a $908 billion plan that built a middle-ground position that the top four leaders of Congress – the GOP and Democratic leaders of both the House and Senate – used as the basis for their talks. The lawmakers urged leaders on both sides to back off of hardline positions.

‘At times we felt like we were in the wilderness because people on all sides of the aisle didn´t want to give, in order to give the other side a win,’ said freshman Rep. Elssa Slotkin, D-Mich. ‘And it was gross to watch, frankly.’

Republicans were most intent on reviving the Paycheck Protection Program with $284 billion, which would cover a second round of PPP grants to especially hard-hit businesses. Democrats won set-asides for low-income and minority communities.

The sweeping bill also contains $25 billion in rental assistance, $15 billion for theaters and other live venues, $82 billion for local schools, colleges and universities, and $10 billion for child care.

The House easily passed a COVID-19 relief bill Monday as dusk fell over the Capitol in Washington. The Senate followed soon after

The House easily passed a COVID-19 relief bill Monday as dusk fell over the Capitol in Washington. The Senate followed soon after

The House easily passed a COVID-19 relief bill Monday as dusk fell over the Capitol in Washington. The Senate followed soon after

The governmentwide appropriations bill was likely to provide a last $1.4 billion installment for Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall as a condition of winning his signature. The Pentagon would receive $696 billion.

Democrats and Senate Republicans prevailed in a bid to use bookkeeping maneuvers to squeeze $12.5 billion more for domestic programs into the legislation.

The bill was an engine to carry much of Capitol Hill’s unfinished business, including an almost 400-page water resources bill that targets $10 billion for 46 Army Corps of Engineers flood control, environmental and coastal protection projects. Another addition would extend a batch of soon-to-expire tax breaks, such as one for craft brewers, wineries and distillers.

It also would carry numerous clean-energy provisions sought by Democrats with fossil fuel incentives favored by Republicans, $7 billion to increase access to broadband, $4 billion to help other nations vaccinate their people, $14 billion for cash-starved transit systems, $1 billion for Amtrak and $2 billion for airports and concessionaires. Food stamp benefits would temporarily be increased by 15%.

The Senate Historical Office said the previous record for the length of legislation was the 2,847-page tax reform bill of 1986 – about one-half the size of Monday’s behemoth.

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