New York Correspondent
The gloomiest Christmas in the United States was experienced yesterday with an additional layer of uncertainty about the Covid aid package, which has millions of citizens and companies in the country pending.
Donald Trump Yesterday he had in his possession the law that includes the aid package agreed by Congress, after months of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans, to stamp his signature. Congress sent it on Christmas Eve to his residence in Mar-a-Lago, where the US president is spending the end of the year holidays.
Trump launched the expansion of these aid into the air in a video shared on his social networks, in which he complained that aid to Americans was not large enough, while cooperation items with foreign countries or for the financing of cultural institutions.
It was a populist trick of the president, because the Covid package did not include those items, but they were within the federal budget. To force legislators to agree to aid for the coronavirus, it was decided to link it to the budget law: if there was no understanding about the stimulus for the pandemic, the accounts would not be approved, causing a partial government shutdown.
The final agreement between Democrats and Republicans was much less substantial than the former wanted, but it managed to extend, albeit in a more limited way, the aid. It is a pack of $ 900 billion, which includes sending checks for $ 600 for Americans who earn less than $ 75,000 a year – 2,400 for a family of four – and extending unemployment benefits for $ 300 a week for eleven weeks. In addition, it includes 330,000 million in aid for SMEs and various items for schools, transport or the vaccination campaign against Covid. The package approved in the spring included checks for $ 1,200 and weekly subsidies of $ 600. Democrats were seeking at least the same amounts, but Republicans, less inclined to spend, negotiated them lower.
But, with the deal finalized, Trump appeared and demanded checks for $ 2,000. It was a surprising decision, since his own Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, and most Republican allies in Congress had welcomed the deal. The two highest ranking – Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republican majority in the Senate, and Kevin McCarthy, leader of the minority in the House of Representatives – were engines of negotiation.
Donald Trump did not go so far as to threaten the veto, but demanded amendments to the spending law. If he ends up opposing the law on his table, he would force Republicans to confront the president, and this is not the time to cause divisions in the party. In ten days, lRepublicans are at stake keeping their majority in the Senate in the second round for both Georgia seats, where things are tied.
“The best way to end this is for the president to sign the law,” the Republican senator defended yesterday Roy Blunt. And I hope that’s what he decides.
For the Democrats, the script change printed by the president is a Christmas present. They have defended checks of the size that Trump now wants, and the loyalty test that it supposes for the Republicans benefits them: it supports their demands for greater stimuli and causes a gap in their rivals. Monday, Democrats to vote $ 2,000 checks to pressure Republicans.
As the political games between Congress and the White House continue, Americans in need celebrated Christmas yesterday without knowing what will happen to their future. The moratorium on evictions expires on December 31. The last checks with weekly unemployment benefits will be sent today. Next week’s round won’t happen if Trump doesn’t sign the law or a new deal isn’t produced.
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