Trump lost his battle with Congress over the stimulus bill and cost 14 million Americans unemployment aid in the process

Marco Bello/ReutersPresident Donald Trump plays golf at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Sunday.
  • President Donald Trump’s last-minute threat to reject Congress’ $US900 billion COVID-19 relief bill backfired – he caved and signed the legislation on Sunday evening after days of delay.
  • Trump called the bill a “disgrace” and demanded that it include $US2,000 stimulus checks rather than $US600 checks.
  • But Trump cost about 14 million Americans a week of federal unemployment aid by waiting 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’ $US900 billion COVID-19 relief bill backfired — he caved and signed the legislation on Sunday evening after days of delay and golfing.

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 in both chambers. His major gripe with the bill, which his treasury secretary negotiated, was its “measly” $US600 stimulus checks that he demanded be increased to $US2,000.

Trump cost millions of jobless Americans at least a week of federal unemployment benefits by failing to sign the legislation until after the federal aid expired on Saturday.

Millions of unemployed Americans are due to receive $US300 per week in federal aid through March 14. But because of Trump’s delay, about 14 million Americans — including gig workers and freelancers who depend on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and people who’ve exhausted state aid and depend on the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program — won’t receive federal aid for the week that started on Sunday. It’s unclear whether the aid could be provided retroactively.

Trump claimed on Sunday that he was 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, as Republicans have overwhelmingly rejected the larger stimulus checks he called for. Democrats are pressuring the GOP to follow the president’s lead, and the House is set to hold a vote on Monday on increasing the direct payments to $US2,000.

Senate Republicans have shot down even $US1,200 direct payments. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t mention the demand for $US2,000 direct payments 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 $US2,000 checks.

Trump’s battle against his own party also threatens to undermine Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the two multimillionaire Republicans facing crucial runoff elections 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, a source told CNN.

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