PHOTO CREDITS: DONALD J. TRUMP/TWITTER
President Donald Trump on Tuesday demanded Congress send him an amended COVID-19 relief package, demanding that stimulus checks of $600 for each American be increased to $2,000.
Trump said in a video that he tweeted out Tuesday night that the bill delivered too much money to foreign countries, but not enough to Americans. The bill provides for a $600 payment to most Americans, but Trump said he is asking Congress to amend the bill and “increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple. I am also asking Congress to get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill.” “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,” the president says in the video.
Pelosi responded about an hour later on Twitter. “Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for 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 tweeted, though she did not mention anything about reducing some of the items Trump called wasteful. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is receiving widespread criticism for her remarks on Monday that described the $900 billion Congressional stimulus bills’ paltry $600 stimulus checks as a “significant” amount for working families. Pelosi had previously called employee bonuses of over $1,000 following Trump administration tax cuts as “crumbs.” Nevertheless, Pelosi was expected to put Trump’s proposal forward Thursday for a vote.
The package included $1.4 trillion to fund the government and $900 billion in Coronavirus relief. The Covid relief includes $600 per American making up to $75,000 and another round of PPP for small businesses. $135 million will go to Burma, $85.5 million to Cambodia, $1.4 billion for “Asia Reassurance Initiative Act”, $130 million to Nepal, $700 million to Sudan, $250 million in Palestinian aid, and $25 million for “gender programs” in Pakistan. “None of us think this legislation is perfect, but a big bipartisan majority of us recognize the incredible amount of good it will do when we send it to the president’s desk. The American people have waited long enough. I’m glad for our country that we’re now moving ahead together,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier Monday (The Spectator).
As Sen. Hawley said last week when arguing for $1,200 payments, “Wall Street is doing great. Big Tech, they’re doing great. The big multinational corporations, fantastic. Working people, working people are living in their cars. Working people can’t go to the doctor. Working people can’t pay their rent. Working people can’t feed their children. They should be first, Mr. President, not last.”
The relief package was brought forward Monday afternoon and sped through the House and Senate in a matter of hours as lawmakers worked to close the books on the year. Many lawmakers complained about not having enough time to even read the bill, but they overwhelmingly voted for it as local businesses and constituents seek economic relief from the pandemic. The Senate cleared the package by a 92-6 vote after the House approved it by another lopsided vote, 359-53 (ABC).
Far-left Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and conservative firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz found rare common ground this week, agreeing that lawmakers didn’t have enough time to read the massive coronavirus relief bill before voting on it. “This is why Congress needs time to actually read this package before voting on it. Members of Congress have not read this bill. It’s over 5000 pages, arrived at 2pm today, and we are told to expect a vote on it in 2 hours,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted late Monday. “This isn’t governance. It’s hostage-taking,” she said, referring to a provision in the bill that would make illegal streaming for commercial profit a felony.
Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of Queens and the Bronx, said rushing a vote does a disservice to lawmakers and the public alike. “And by the way, it’s not just members who need to see the bill ahead of time – YOU do. The PUBLIC needs to see these bills w enough time to contact their rep to let them know how they feel. Members are reeling right now bc they don’t have time to consult w/ their communities,” said Ocasio-Cortez, who voted for the package (NY Post).
Less than an hour later, Cruz tweeted: “@AOC is right.” “It’s ABSURD to have a $2.5 trillion spending bill negotiated in secret and then—hours later—demand an up-or-down vote on a bill nobody has had time to read. #CongressIsBroken,” continued the Texas Republican, who later voted against the measure. Joining Cruz in opposing it in the upper chamber were Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).
If Trump were to veto the bill, it would take a two-thirds majority vote each in the House and Senate to override it, according to the Congressional Research Service. The bill already passed by overwhelming majorities in both chambers Monday, but they would have to vote again to override a veto. Trump noted that the nearly 5,600-page bill – the longest ever passed by Congress – is one that nobody could have possibly read in the few hours between the time House and Senate members received it Monday and when they voted on it (FOX).
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE