Trump Declines to Sign Relief Bill, Suspending Unemployment Benefits for Millions

US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks at a rally to support Republican Senate candidates at Valdosta Regional Airport in Valdosta, Georgia on December 5, 2020. - President Donald Trump ventures out of Washington on Saturday for his first political appearance since his election defeat to Joe Biden, campaigning …
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump declined to sign the coronavirus relief and stimulus bill on Saturday evening as he pushed for higher stimulus payments of $2000 rather than $600, meaning millions of Americans would exhaust their unemployment benefits.

Two unemployment benefits programs expired at midnight on Sunday morning, as the Wall Street Journal noted:

The first provided unemployment benefits for gig and contract workers and others who don’t generally qualify for jobless aid. The second provided up to 13 weeks of additional payments to individuals who exhausted other programs that pay benefits, such as regular state unemployment benefits. In early December, roughly 14 million people were receiving benefits through those pandemic-relief programs, representing nearly three-quarters of those currently receiving jobless benefits.

The controversial bill, nearly 6,000 pages long, would also provide temporary funding for the federal government, meaning that it would shut down at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday if Trump does not sign the bill, or another bill funding the government.

Trump retweeted a video Saturdayof a speech he made last week criticizing wasteful spending in the bill, and demanding $2000 stimulus checks rather than $600 that had been agreed to by Congress.

Democrats attempted to push the $2000 stimulus proposal last week through the House by unanimous consent, which failed when Republicans objected.

Congress faced criticism for not providing more relief to Americans, and for larding a bill sold to the public as coronavirus relief with billions of dollars in unrelated spending.

But now Trump also faces criticism for allowing unemployment benefits to lapse because of his refusal to sign the compromise bill, which his own administration helped negotiate.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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