Donald Trump went to his golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida on Thursday after stating that he is “working tirelessly for the American people” with a schedule that included “many meetings and calls.” In Washington, a Democratic proposal to increase direct payments to Americans under the Covid aid bill was blocked from $ 600 to $ 2,000.
The increase was a demand from Trump himself in a surprise video address Tuesday night, but was rejected by Republicans who opposed higher spending during the stimulus talks.
If the aid bill fails, millions of Americans will be left without the help they desperately need at least until President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi said Democrats would try again on Monday.
“To vote against this bill is to deny the financial hardships families face,” he said, “and deny them the relief they need.”
The White House did not immediately confirm whether Trump was playing golf. Either way, the official guidance to journalists on his “relentless” agenda was in contrast to recent remarkably light examples of compromises, which have left Trump free to make unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and meet with conspiracy theorists and cronies about the attempts. to subvert the constitution and stay in power.
From Florida on Wednesday night, the president issued the latest batch of pardons and acts of clemency for political allies.
Before Trump intervened, the Covid aid bill was agreed to at $ 900 billion and linked to massive spending legislation to keep government open until September of next year. The aid package was to be the second largest in U.S. history, after the $ 2.3 trillion Care Act at the start of the pandemic.
“Just when you think you’ve seen it all,” Pelosi wrote to her colleagues about Trump’s tactic. “The entire country knows that it is urgent for the president to sign this bill, both to provide relief from the coronavirus and to keep the government open.”
Pelosi on Thursday offered the president’s proposal to increase payments under a procedure that allowed only one lawmaker to object and in a so-called pro forma session, with few lawmakers present. It duly failed.
Trump has not expressly threatened to veto the Covid package, but on Wednesday he did veto the annual National Defense Authorization Act, valued at $ 740 billion, over objections to renaming military bases in honor of Confederate leaders, to telecommunications provisions and more.
Congress has not failed to pass the defense bill in 60 years. The House will return on Monday and the Senate on Tuesday to override Trump’s veto.
The president’s extraordinary behavior has presented his party with a painful political test, especially for Georgia senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are fighting to retain their seats in the Jan. 5 elections that will decide control of the Senate.
High-level Republicans remained silent after Trump’s intervention in the relief of Covid, neither Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader, spoke publicly. In a conference call, Republicans in the House of Representatives complained that Trump had thrown them under the bus, one told the Associated Press. Most had voted for the package and urged leaders to use television to explain its benefits, the person said.
McCarthy sent a letter to his colleagues suggesting that Republicans would offer their own proposal, taking up Trump’s complaints about foreign aid to “reexamine how our tax dollars are being spent abroad.” Democrats took advantage of Republican disorder. Jon Ossoff, Perdue’s opponent, simply tweeted: “$ 2,000 checks now.”
The aid package represents a hard-fought compromise, a 5,000-page bill that includes $ 1.4 billion to fund the government through September 2021. The aid bill would establish a temporary supplemental unemployment benefit of $ 300 per week, along with new grants for businesses, schools and healthcare. providers and tenants facing eviction.
Despite Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin representing the White House at the talks, Trump criticized the provisions of the broader funding package, including foreign aid included each year, calling the bill a “disgraceful “. He didn’t specifically commit to using his veto power, and there may be enough support in Congress to override him if he does. The Senate approved the relief package 92-6, the House 359-53.
The bill is expected to be sent for Trump’s signature Thursday or Friday, a congressional aide told the AP. Trump could also allow it to expire with a “pocket veto” at the end of the year.
The consequences of failure would be serious. It would mean no help for struggling Americans and small businesses, or additional resources to help with vaccine distribution in a pandemic in which nearly 19 million have been infected and nearly 326,000 have died.
Also, because lawmakers linked pandemic aid to funding, the government would shut down on December 29. So a resolution could be forced on Monday, when an interim funding bill expires. Democrats are reportedly considering another stopgap measure to keep the government going until Biden is sworn in.
Biden he insisted to the newspaper columnists on Wednesday that “there are enough Republicans prepared to meet him in the middle so that he can get things done in an evenly divided Congress.” He applauded lawmakers, saying the aid package “provides vital relief at a critical time.” He also said that more would be needed.
Arriving in Mar-a-Lago, Trump was greeted by hundreds of supporters. Few wore masks or socially distanced themselves to mitigate the transmission of Covid while waving flags and banners and shouting “Four more years!”
One child had a sign that said “We are going to miss you.” But there were also some opponents of Trump. One had a sign that said: “Go away.”
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