PHOTO CREDITS: ERIN SCHAFF/THE NEW YORK TIMES
After a few days of delay, President Donald Trump signed the COVID-19 stimulus bill early last week.
In order to avert a government shutdown during the pandemic, President Donald Trump signed the $1.4 trillion catchall spending bill Sunday night, which included the additional $900 billion COVID-19 relief measure. The president has called the 5,500 page monstrosity of a bill a “disgrace,” saying it “has almost nothing to do with COVID,” highlighting “wasteful” spending on foreign aid and other things. He has insisted the $600 stimulus checks Congress included in the package were “ridiculously low,” calling for $2,000 per individual and $4,000 per couple. Trump continued to denounce the “pork” in the bill over the weekend, reiterating his call for boosting the stimulus checks (BPR).
In a series of tweets, White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere detailed other expectations from the president. “I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed,” Trump said in a release, before signing the bill. “I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill. He added, “I am signing this bill to restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP, return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more.”
“Much more money is coming,” Trump added in a statement. “I will never give up my fight for the American people!” Such wasteful items include a “Climate Security Advisory Council,” “gender programs” in Pakistan, funding to investigate the 1908 Springfield Race Riot, and more. It’s unlikely that Congress would cut all the unnecessary spending from the COVID-19 relief bill that Trump recommended. It remains unclear what will come of Trump’s move. The president lacks the ability to perform a line-item veto — to sign a bill while striking parts of it. Some state governors have this power, but the president does not. Only Congress has the legislative power, so the president cannot issue line-item vetoes (PJ Media).
In demanding the rescissions, Trump cited the Impoundment Control Act of 1974. which provides “whenever the President determines that all or part of any budget authority will not be required to carry out the full objectives or scope of programs for which it is provided, or that such budget authority should be rescinded for fiscal policy or other reasons (including termination of authorized projects or activities for which budget authority has been provided), the President shall transmit to both Houses of Congress a special message” describing the amount to be reserved, the relevant accounts, the reasons for the rescission, and the economic effects of the rescission. 2 U.S.C. § 683.
“I simply want to get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill,” Trump said in a tweet Saturday. “Now, the President must immediately call on Congressional Republicans to end their obstruction and to join him and Democrats in support of our stand-alone legislation to increase direct payment checks to $2,000, which will be brought to the Floor tomorrow,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Sunday night. “Every Republican vote against this bill is a vote to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny the American people the relief they need,” she added. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tried to pass a unanimous consent bill last week for the $2,000 checks, but Republicans objected. The speaker is expected to bring a bill to the floor on Monday, and Fox News reported that House Democrats will handle it as a “suspension” measure, subjecting it to a two-thirds vote for passage.
The bill the House will vote on Monday was first introduced by Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass. It’s just a few pages long and simply changes the passages in the stimulus Trump just signed that say $600 to $2,000. That made its enactment dependent on Trump signing the stimulus and spending bill, which was in doubt until Sunday night. Trump signing the stimulus, however, is just one step that needs to happen if Democrats’ effort for $2,000 checks is to succeed. It will still need to clear the GOP-controlled Senate and later be signed by the president. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said, “I would be surprised if we dealt with it” if Democrats managed to pass a bill for $2,000.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday he will aim to swiftly pass the $2,000 checks through the Senate if it makes it through the House. “The House will pass a bill to give Americans $2,000 checks,” He said in a Sunday tweet. “Then I will move to pass it in the Senate. No Democrats will object. Will Senate Republicans?” The House meets Monday afternoon and it’s not expected to start taking votes until the early evening — the body will also vote to override the president’s veto on the National Defense Authorization Act Monday. Attendance for the vote will be another element that could affect the margins, as it’s not clear every lawmaker will make it back to Washington, D.C., for the Monday after Christmas or will submit proxy votes (FOX).
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE