Dec. 22 — President Donald Trump called on Congress to amend the $900 billion pandemic relief package approved late Monday night, calling the bill “a disgrace” and suggesting he may not sign it.
In a video message on Tuesday night, Trump urged Congress to increase the $600 direct stimulus checks to $2,000, while criticizing the bill as overly long and filled with unnecessary 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, D-Calif., responded to the president’s message by stating that Republicans “repeatedly refused” to say how much money Trump sought to provide to Americans through direct checks.
“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 wrote on Twitter.
Trump was originally expected to sign the bill on Tuesday and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday that the first stimulus payments, in the amount of $600 per person and $600 for dependents, should begin arriving in accounts next week.
The long-awaited bill also includes aid for small businesses, enhanced unemployment payments and another round of direct stimulus payments to most Americans.
Trump signed a stopgap funding bill on Monday night, which will ensure that government departments and agencies will stay open until he can sign the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill and the attached COVID-19 relief package, which passed both houses of Congress late Monday.
The stopgap keeps the government funded through Dec. 28.
Monday night was the third time Trump had to sign a temporary stopgap measure to prevent a federal shutdown. He signed a one-day measure on Sunday to cover Monday. Federal funding from the last spending bill ran out on Friday.
Despite Congress signing the larger package Monday, the stopgap measure was needed to cover the logistics of Trump’s signing the spending bill, which at nearly 5,600 pages is one of the largest pieces of legislation ever passed.
The computer digital files with the cumbersome bill was also slowed because of a computer glitch that slowed the process further on Monday.
The new omnibus spending bill will keep the federal government operating until at least October.