Trump was going to sign the stimulus bill on Christmas Eve as a gift to Americans but ‘changed his mind,’ costing millions of unemployed people $300

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President Donald Trump arrives on the South Lawn of the White House on December 12. Al Drago/Getty Images
  • President Donald Trump planned to sign the $US2.3 trillion COVID-19 relief and government funding bill on Christmas Eve but “changed his mind,” a source told CNN.
  • A desk and chair were prepared for Trump to sign the bill – but as the 7 p.m. signing time approached, aides were told that he would not be doing so that night, CNN reported.
  • Because Trump signed the bill on Sunday and not before a Saturday-night deadline, the newly approved $US300 federal unemployment supplemental benefit might now last for 10 weeks instead of 11 weeks.
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President Donald Trump planned to sign the $US2.3 trillion COVID-19 relief and government funding bill into law on Christmas Eve, assuaging a nation battered by the pandemic with more economic help.

However, after the bill arrived at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for his signature, he “changed his mind” and rebuffed a plan to sign the bill during a ceremony in one of the resort’s ballrooms at 7 p.m., a source told CNN.

A desk and chair, along with pens, were prepared for Trump to sign the bill — but as 7 p.m. approached, aides were told that he would not be doing so that night, CNN reported.

On Sunday, Trump signed the bill, which he had slammed as a disgrace largely because it included $US600 stimulus checks instead of $US2,000 checks. He missed the Saturday-evening deadline for continuing supplemental federal unemployment benefits — the delay will cost already struggling Americans a week of $US300 unemployment benefits.

The critical $US300 federal lifeline might now last for 10 weeks instead of the 11 weeks lawmakers sought when they forged the compromise package.

Last Tuesday, Trump said he wouldn’t sign the coronavirus relief legislation into law unless the stimulus payments were increased. He did not disclose this preference during the difficult negotiations among congressional leaders that resulted in the bipartisan package.

Trump also slammed the $US1.4 trillion omnibus bill — merged with the $US900 billion relief package — that appropriated funding for federal agencies for the fiscal year.

“It’s called the COVID relief bill, but it has almost nothing to do with COVID,” the president said, seeming to conflate the spending bill and the relief package.

The new relief package extends pandemic unemployment programs, including the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which was set to expire this Thursday. The CARES Act, enacted in March, extended traditional unemployment benefits to 39 weeks from the standard 26 weeks. The new package provides an additional 24 weeks of benefits under the PEUC program, extending total unemployment benefits to a maximum of 50 weeks.