All eyes were on President Donald Trump over the Christmas holiday to see whether he would sign the massive, $900 billion COVID-19 relief package that was combined with a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill.
Although the president threatened to veto the legislation due to the outrageous amount of foreign pork spending included in the budget bill, along with the small size of the direct stimulus checks, Trump shocked Capitol Hill on Sunday when he reversed course and signed the package into law, according to the Washington Examiner.
The passing of the monstrous measure came as House and Senate leadership prepared to launch a veto override vote in case the president failed to sign the bill.
What does it mean?
The bill, which was passed with bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress last week, included $900 billion in COVID-19 relief for Americans, small businesses, and various industries hit the hardest during the second wave of the spread of the pandemic.
Even though the president’s signature meant that the U.S. government would not shut down, the timing of his signature came a day after millions of Americans temporarily ran out of extended unemployment benefits. However, that program will restart now that the bill has been made into law.
One of the most-debated inclusions in the bill is the direct stimulus payments for struggling Americans. In the bill’s current language, Americans who meet certain criteria are expected to receive $600 stimulus checks. Trump argued for the amount to be increased to $2,000 and threatened to veto if that change wasn’t made, though his threats ultimately didn’t come to fruition.
Trump also hammered Congress in his veto threat over the ridiculous amount of spending on foreign, special interests written into the bill, which included, for example, millions for “gender programs” in Pakistan and for the study of certain types of fish native to the Gulf of Mexico.
The president made clear through his adviser, Judd Deere, that he still is not pleased with the amount of excess foreign spending included in the signed bill, revealing that he was sending the bill back to Congress with various recession requests.
“The President is sending a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed. Sending 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,” Deere tweeted Sunday.
According to Fox News, although the president is well within his rights to include requested rescissions in the bill, the parts of the bill that he would like to see removed will have to be approved by Congress. With only a few days left in this session, experts say it’s highly unlikely Trump will get his wish.
With regard to increasing the amount of direct stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said a vote to do so will be held on Monday, and it is expected to clear the House with little to no issue, according to CNBC.
That measure will then be put to the test in the Republican-controlled Senate, which is currently split on whether to move forward with the stimulus check increase.