United States President-elect Joe Biden urges Donald Trump to sign $ 892 billion COVID-19 finance and relief bill that would provide much needed support to Americans hard hit by the virus and the economic recession caused by the pandemic.
In a written statement, Biden, who is expected to take office on January 20, accused Trump of an “abdication of responsibility” that could have “devastating consequences.”
“It’s Boxing Day, and millions of families are unsure if they will be able to make ends meet due to President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming, bipartisan majority Biden told me.
“This bill is essential. It must be enacted now. “
Trump’s refusal to sign the COVID-19 relief legislation, which past in Congress this week after months of partisan wrangling, has created concerns for millions of Americans who are expected to lose special unemployment benefits at midnight Saturday.
Coronavirus support, tied to the $ 1.4 trillion government funding legislation passed in the House and Senate this week, includes a one-time payment of $ 600 to U.S. citizens and extends some unemployment benefits and financial aid in case pandemic.
The United States has reported more than 18.7 million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the crisis and more than 330,000 virus-related deaths, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University – the highest totals in the world .
“It’s a game of chess and we’re pawns,” said Lanetris Haines, an independent single mother of three in South Bend, Ind., Who is at risk of losing her $ 129 weekly unemployment benefit, at the Associated Press news agency.
Earl McCarthy, a father of four who lives in the US state of Georgia, said he had been counting on unemployment since he lost his sales job and would be without an income by the second week of January if Trump does not sign the bill.
“The whole experience has been horrible,” McCarthy, who receives about $ 350 a week for unemployment insurance, told AP.
“For me, I shudder to think that if I hadn’t saved anything or had an emergency fund during those five months, where would we be?” he said.
“About $ 600”
Trump said the one-time payment to Americans included in the legislation was too low.
“I just want to make our great people $ 2,000, rather than the meager $ 600 that is now in the bill,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning.
He has yet to say whether he intends to veto the legislation and he may still sign it in the coming days.
I just want our great people to get $ 2,000, rather than the meager $ 600 that is in the bill right now. Also, stop the billions of dollars in “pig”.
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2020
Democrats on Thursday sought to increase payments to the $ 2,000 per person Trump demanded, but the president’s Republican colleagues, who oppose the higher amount, blocked the effort.
The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives plans to vote this week on a law that would provide $ 2,000 one-time checks to individuals.
But special unemployment assistance is set to expire on Saturday due to delays in signing the COVID-19 relief bill into law, U.S. media said, affecting up to 14 million Americans.
The COVID relief bill would allow people to collect unemployment benefits until March and reactivate additional benefits for millions of people, the New York Times reported.
A partial government shutdown will begin on Tuesday unless Congress can agree to an interim financing bill before that date.
This abdication of responsibility has devastating consequences. This bill is essential. It must be enacted now.
Republican lawmaker French Hill of Arkansas, who sits on the House financial services committee, told Fox on Saturday that he hoped Trump would sign the bill immediately.
“I wish he had pitched that $ 2,000 pitch as loudly in the last three weeks as after the bill was passed. It might have given us more leverage to get a slightly higher payout, ”Hill said.
At this point, he added, “it will be extremely difficult to get this payment through the Senate and the House.”