UPDATE: After stalling all weekend (while golfing) Trump finally signed a Covid relief and government funding bill.
Trump’s own administration had helped negotiate the bill and that his own aides claimed he’d approved days ago. But his Sunday night signature was too late to prevent unemployment aid from lapsing.
The delay in signing the package is the latest example of Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior in the waning days of his term.
It also pushed the government within 30 hours of shutting down.
According to the Brookings Institute, 10 million unemployed workers lost compensation Saturday.
Trump’s statement afterward appeared face-saving, insisting that one of his trade-offs for signing the bill was lawmakers agreeing to
“focus strongly on the very substantial voter fraud which took place in the November 3 Presidential election”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made no mention of this in his own statement praising Trump for signing the legislation.
The legislation, which had arrived at Mar-a-Lago by Friday for Trump’s signature, would have extended the number of weeks people can stay on two key pandemic unemployment programs and increase weekly benefits by $300 for all through mid-March.
Trump sat on the sidelines during negotiations only to emerge after the deal was done and passed by Congress to complain the stimulus checks for Americans were not large enough. The $600 figure was negotiated by his own Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Trump then demanded more tweeting on Saturday,
“$2000 + $2000 plus other family members. Not $600. Remember, it was China’s fault!”
Trump has repeatedly blamed China for the pandemic, dubbing COVID-19 the ‘China virus’ and blaming it for the outbreak, shutdowns, closures and subsequent economic losses.
The end-of-year COVID relief and spending bill was considered a done deal before Trump’s last-minute objections.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to try again on Monday. Meanwhile, Trump has not been swayed to change his mind, despite the rejections from his own party.
Trump tweeted earlier Saturday,
“I simply want to get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill.”
About 9.5 million people had been relying on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that expired Saturday. That program made unemployment insurance available to freelancers, gig workers and others who were normally not eligible.
President-elect Joe Biden had called on Trump to sign the bill immediately as the midnight Saturday deadline neared for two federal programs providing unemployment aid.
Biden said in a statement,
‘It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump´s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority.”
Meanwhile Trump golfs and complains about his loss in a fair election,
“The numbers are far greater than what is necessary to win the individual swing states, and cannot even be contested…. Courts are bad, the FBI and ‘Justice’ didn’t do their job, and the United States Election System looks like that of a third world country.”
Freedom of the press has been gone for a long time, it is Fake News, and now we have Big Tech (with Section 230) to deal with.
But when it is all over, and this period of time becomes just another ugly chapter in our Country’s history, WE WILL WIN!!!”
Yes. And I am Marie of Romania!
(Photo, Twitter; via Daily Mail)