Dec. 22 (UPI) — President Donald Trump denounced Congress’ $900 billion COVID-19 relief package on Tuesday night and asked lawmakers to change various things about it, including the size of stimulus payments to Americans, and hinted that he might not sign it.
In a video message, Trump said Congress should raise the $600 per-person payments to $2,000 and $4,000 per couple and dismissed the bill as overly long and filled with unnecessary and “wasteful” spending.
“I am also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill,” he said.
Trump blamed Democrats for holding up the bill, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly responded that Republicans “repeatedly refused” to say how much money Trump sought to provide to Americans through direct payments and agreed to the increased amount.
“At last the president has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!” Pelosi tweeted.
Trump was initially expected to sign the relief bill on Tuesday, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the first stimulus payments should begin arriving in accounts next week.
The relief bill also includes billions in aid for small businesses and enhanced unemployment payments of $300 per week.
Attached to the relief bill is a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill to keep the federal government operating until next October. Trump’s criticisms for the coronavirus relief bill on Tuesday night, such as appropriations for foreign governments, seemed to be aimed at things that were actually in the spending measure.
Government funding ran out last Friday and Trump and lawmakers have signed multiple stopgap measures since then to prevent a federal shutdown. Trump signed another stopgap on Monday night to ensure that government will stay open until he can sign the new omnibus bill and the attached COVID-19 relief package, which passed both houses of Congress late Monday.
The stopgap will keep the government funded through next Monday.
The computer digital files with the cumbersome bill was also slowed because of a computer glitch that slowed the process further on Monday.