The US government headed into chaotic final days of the year as President Donald Trump’s refusal to approve a $ 2.3 trillion financial package lost benefits to millions of unemployed Americans and threatened to shut down federal agencies due to lack of funding.
Trump, who steps down on January 20 after losing the November election, came under pressure from lawmakers on both sides on Sunday to stop blocking the pandemic aid and government funding bill. which was approved by Congress last week.
The Republican President demanded Congress amend the bill to increase the size of stimulus checks for struggling Americans to $ 2,000 from $ 600, jeopardizing not only a massive package of economic and public health aid, but the basic functions of government itself.
The package was passed with wide margins in the House and Senate and with the understanding of members of both parties that Trump backed it. Now, the federal government will be cash-strapped at 12:01 am Tuesday (05:01 GMT) if Trump refuses to sign the bill on time while he is on vacation in Florida.
In the face of economic hardship and the continuing surge of the novel coronavirus, lawmakers on Sunday urged Trump to sign the legislation immediately, then ask Congress to give more. Besides unemployment benefits and family relief allowances, money for vaccine distribution, businesses, cash-strapped public transport systems and more is at stake. Protections against evictions are also at stake. stake.
“What the president is doing right now is incredibly cruel,” Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who is Caucasian with the Democrats, told ABC on Sunday. “So many people are in pain … This is really insane and this president has to finally … do the right thing for the American people and stop worrying about their ego.”
Republican Senator Pat Toomey told Fox News Trump should approve the bill now, then ask for more money later.
“I understand the president would like to send bigger checks to everyone. I think what he should do is sign this bill and make his case. Congress can pass another bill, ”Toomey said.
“You don’t get everything you want even though you are President of the United States,” he said.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican who has criticized Trump’s response to the pandemic and his efforts to overturn election results. “I just gave up on guessing what he might do next,” he says.
Trump spent Christmas vacation at his resort town of Mar-a-Lago, Florida. On Sunday morning, he didn’t seem in a rush to try to resolve the deadlock with Congress as he made his way to the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.
He also complained that the bill allocates too much money to special interests, cultural projects and foreign aid.
Americans are having a bitter holiday amid a pandemic that has killed more than 330,000 people in the United States, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, with a daily death toll of more than 3,000, the most high since the start of the pandemic.
According to data from the COVID Tracking Project, the United States recorded an average of 185,903 new infections daily over the past seven days, while the number of people hospitalized with the disease reached 117,344 on Saturday. The total number of confirmed infections since the start of the epidemic topped 19 million on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins, by far the highest number in the world.
The relief program also extends a moratorium on evictions that expires on Dec. 31, updates support for small business payrolls, provides funds to help schools reopen, and helps the transportation industry and distribution of vaccines.
Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said too many stakes were at stake for Trump to “play this old game of switcheroo.”
“I don’t understand,” he told CNN. “I don’t understand what is being done; why, unless it’s just to create chaos and show power and be upset because you lost the election.
The US Congress, which is normally adjourned the last week of December, is preparing to return to work.
The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives plans to vote on a law on Monday providing for one-time checks of $ 2,000 to people, but Republican lawmakers are already concerned about the cost of the larger package.
Without the enactment of the Relief and Funding Bill, the U.S. government is strapped for cash one minute after midnight on December 28 (05:01 GMT Tuesday). If the battle with Trump is not resolved by then, Congress must pass an interim funding bill, otherwise federal agencies will not have the money to fully function as of Tuesday.
This scenario could be avoided if the House and Senate pass a funding bill separate from the pandemic legislation and the President signs it before midnight on Monday.