- President Donald Trump's last-minute threat to reject Congress' $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill backfired after he caved and signed the legislation on Sunday evening after days of delay.
- Trump called the bill a "disgrace" and demanded it include $2,000 stimulus checks, rather than $600 checks.
- But Trump has cost about 14 million Americans a week of federal unemployment aid because he waited until after that aid expired on Saturday to sign the new legislation.
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President Donald Trump's last-minute threat to reject Congress' $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill backfired after he caved and signed the legislation on Sunday evening after days of delay and golf.
The president failed to win a single concession from Congress, which sent the bill to him early last week after passing it with large majorities. His major gripe with the bill, which his Treasury secretary negotiated, was its "measly" $600 stimulus checks that he demanded be increased to $2,000.
Trump cost millions of jobless Americans at least a week of federal unemployment benefits as he failed to sign the legislation until after the federal aid expired on Saturday.
The gig workers and freelancers who depend on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and those who've exhausted state aid and depend on Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation are due to receive $300 per week in federal aid through March 14. But because of Trump's delay, about 14 million Americans won't receive their federal aid for the week of December 27. It's unclear if the aid could be provided retroactively.
Trump claimed on Sunday that he's putting pressure on Congress to remove billions of dollars in "pork" from the bill, but he has no leverage to enforce this demand after signing the legislation, which he called a "disgrace."
"I will sign the omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed," Trump said in a statement. "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 is also dividing his own party in the process, as Republicans have overwhelmingly rejected the larger stimulus checks he's calling for. Democrats are pressuring the GOP to follow the president's lead, and the House will hold a vote on Monday on increasing the direct payments to $2,000.
The vast majority of Senate Republicans have shot down even $1,200 direct payments. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn't mention the $2,000 direct payment demand in a statement after Trump's signing on Sunday. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy blocked a previous effort by House Democrats to vote on the $2,000 checks.
Trump's battle against his own party also threatens to undermine Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the two multi-millionaire Republicans facing crucial runoff races early next month. Their Democratic opponents have campaigned on delivering pandemic assistance to struggling Georgians.
The president was prepared to sign the relief bill on Christmas Eve at his resort in Palm Beach, Florida, but he "changed his mind" at the last minute, CNN reported.
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