WASHINGTON – President Trump abruptly signed a measure on Sunday to provide $ 900 billion in pandemic aid and fund the government through September. That ended the last-minute turmoil he had caused over laws designed to provide an economic lifeline for millions of Americans and prevent government shutdowns.
The signing was a sudden reversal for the president, who last week appeared poised to derail the bill. However, the move came after two critical unemployment programs that guaranteed a delay in benefits for millions of unemployed Americans.
The president had largely gone broke during months of negotiations, and his last-minute opposition to the signing of the $ 2.3 trillion package took lawmakers and White House officials by surprise. It was feared that such a delay would exacerbate the economic toll as the coronavirus pandemic rages across the country.
The relief bill includes a revitalization of expanded and expanded unemployment benefits, billions of dollars to help states distribute coronavirus vaccines, a replenished small business loan program, and airline aid. It was passed along with a spending measure to keep government funding going for the remainder of the fiscal year.
About 24 hours after Congress overwhelmingly approved the measure, Mr. Trump showed up a surprise video from the White House on Tuesday evening, calling for direct payments to be more than tripled to $ 2,000 per adult.
The president hinted that he could veto the legislation and also included provisions in the financial statement that provided foreign aid and allocated money to Washington institutions like the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Smithsonian. Many of Mr Trump’s complaints concerned measures to distribute money in line with his own White House budget requests.
During the vacation weekend he spent at his Florida estate and golf club, Mr. Trump appeared to double his reluctance to sign the legislation. He asked for $ 2,000 in direct payments and called on Congress to cut some government spending. But in an abrupt reversal on Sunday, he suddenly teased, “Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Follow information! ”
The most pressing problem caused by the president’s delay was the fate of unemployment benefits. Mr Trump’s decision to wait several days before signing the bill means that two unemployment programs to expand and expand federal unemployment benefits have become obsolete, the guidelines for states waiting to reprogram systems, and the new law to take into account, were delayed and that it was millions of unemployed Americans I didn’t know if federal aid was coming.
Legislators from both parties spent the weekend urging Mr Trump to sign the bill and reverse course. A bipartisan group of lawmakers who helped break a month-long congressional stimulus jam called for either an immediate signature or a veto to “allow those who are in favor to act before it is too late. “
“I understand he wants to be remembered for campaigning for big checks,” Pennsylvania Republican Senator Patrick J. Toomey told Fox News. “But the danger is that if he allows this to happen, he will be remembered for chaos, misery and erratic behavior.”
Alan Rappeport and Ben Casselman contributed to the coverage.