UPDATED 12/22, 8:50 p.m. ET: Like many Americans, President Donald Trump isn't pleased with the newly passed COVID-19 relief packaged and is now calling on Congress to increase stimulus payments from $600 per person to $2,000 per person.
POTUS expressed his criticism in a video posted to social media on Tuesday night, slamming the $900 billion relief bill as "wasteful" and a "disgrace."
"Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests, while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it. It wasn't their fault. It was China's fault," Trump said. "I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple. I'm also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill, or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package."
Trump didn't specifically say whether he'll veto the bill, which was passed this week after months of negotiations. The package will provide an additional $300 in weekly unemployment benefits for 11 weeks, $25 billion in emergency rental relief, and an extension of the eviction moratorium that was expected to expire this month. The bill also prohibits surprise medical billing for those who receive treatment from out-of-network doctors.
In early October, Trump had ordered his team to stop relief package negotiations until after the general election. He changed his tune shortly after, insisting the brief pause was "not anybody’s fault."
"Well I shut down talks two days ago because they weren’t working out. Now they are starting to work out, we’re starting to have some very productive talks ..." he told Fox Business Network, per the Washington Post. "They were trying to get things, and we were trying to get things and it wasn’t going anywhere, I shut it down. I don’t want to play games. And then we reopened, and I see the markets are doing well but I think we have a really good chance of doing something."
UPDATED 12/22, 12:11 a.m. ET: Both the House of Representatives and the Senate has voted to approve the new $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill, NPR reports. The Senate approved the bill with a vote of 91-7 on Monday night. The legislation, which contains 5,593 pages, will now go to President Donald Trump's desk.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that money, the previously reported $600 for Americans making less than $75,000 a year, could be deposited into people's accounts as soon as the start of next week.
"I expect we'll get the money out by the beginning of next week — $2,400 for a family of four — so much needed relief just in time for the holidays,” Mnuchin told CNBC, referencing the $600 direct stimulus checks. "I think this will take us through the recovery."
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Republican and Democratic congressional leaders finally struck a deal on a long-awaited $900 billion relief package on Sunday, following a months-long stalemate after passing the CARES Act back in March.
According to the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the deal on the Senate floor. “We can finally report what our nation has needed to hear for a very long time: More help is on the way,” he said.
Unfortunately that “help on the way” is peanuts compared to what is needed by millions of Americans struggling to pay rent or meet other basic needs as the economy collapses during the global pandemic. While the final piece of legislation is still in the works, the Times reports that it is expected to provide $600 stimulus payments to qualifying Americans, half of the $1,200 we received from the government more than six months ago at the beginning of the crisis.
The deal also extends unemployment benefits that were set to lapse next week, and will likely include rental and food assistance, money for schools and small businesses, and a revival of the Paycheck Protection Program.
News of this deal prompted angry reactions from many who consider the $600 relief checks a slap in the face to the countless working-class people who are struggling to keep their homes and survive through the holiday season. People shared their criticism online, dragging congressional leaders for the puny offering.