President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Tuesday night that the stimulus bill passed by an overwhelming majority of Congress on Monday was not suitable, and he called on Congress to dramatically increase the amount of direct aid to individuals.
At the same time the $900 billion stimulus bill was passed, Congress approved a broader government funding package that operates the government. Trump cited funds used for foreign aid and for other government-funded programs as reasons he will not support the stimulus bill.
The bill passed by Congress on Monday includes $600 direct payments for Americans making less than $75,000 per year. Trump called on Congress to increase the amount of direct payments to $2,000 per person.
“I am also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation,” Trump said, “and to send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package and maybe that administration will be me.”
Trump lost last month’s presidential election, and President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in on January 20.
The bill passed with a veto-proof majority in Congress. Trump has not officially vetoed the bill yet, and Congress will have to wait for Trump to veto it before voting to override the veto. But because there is a new Congress being sworn in on January 3, the House and Senate would have to override the veto by then, or else start the process all over again.
Trump has 10 days from Monday to veto the bill before it is enacted.
Some on both sides of the aisle have called on increasing the amount of direct payments.
“What we needed was a major, major response to tell the working families of this country, who are struggling to keep their families in place, we hear their pain and we are responding,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said. “Now this bill to be honest has a lot of important stuff in it, we worked hard on it, I worked with (Republican Missouri Sen. Josh) Hawley to make sure there would be direct payments. I wanted 1200 bucks, we ended up with $600, which for a family of four, the average family of four would be $2,400. Will that help? Yes, it will. Is it enough? No, it is not.”
Hawley proposed a standalone bill last week that would have provided $1,200 payments, but he went through a procedural motion that would have needed unanimous consent from senators.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hinted she is open to increasing the direct payments.
“Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks,” Pelosi tweeted. “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!”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer similarly took aim at the president on Twitter.
“We spent months trying to secure $2,000 checks but Republicans blocked it,” Schumer tweeted. “Trump needs to sign the bill to help people and keep the government open and we’re glad to pass more aid Americans need. Maybe Trump can finally make himself useful and get Republicans not to block it again”
Until last week, direct payments were not part of the stimulus plan. Several weeks ago, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said direct payments were “dead,” and was focused on getting funds for the Paycheck Protection Program and enhanced unemployment passed.
At nearly the same time Trump released the video on Twitter, he issued 20 pardons and sentence commutations, several of which were for Republican allies of his who pleaded guilty to various federal crimes.