Trump rails against COVID-19 relief package, wants more money in checks and less ‘unnecessary’ items
President Donald Trump criticized Congress on Tuesday for its bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill one night after both chambers passed the package that took months of negotiations to reach, throwing the future of the $900 billion bill into uncertainty.
Most notably, among a plethora of other changes he wants to the bill, the outgoing president wanted the amount that Americans are set to receive in stimulus checks to be increased from $600 per person to $2,000, which is $800 more than people were sent as part of the CARES Act back in March.
“A few months ago, Congress started negotiations on a new package to get urgently needed help to the American people. It’s taken forever. However, the bill they are now planning to send back to my desk is much different than anticipated. It really is a disgrace,” Trump said in a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday evening.
“Despite all of this wasteful spending and much more, the $900 billion package provides hardworking taxpayers with only $600 each in relief payments, and not enough money is given to small businesses, and in particular restaurants, whose owners have suffered so grievously,” he added.
“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple,” Trump also said.
The president argued that the legislation in its present version, which is coupled with $1.4 trillion in omnibus spending, has “almost nothing to do with COVID.”
“Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it,” he said.
Here, Trump is referencing the significant amount of money from the bill being delegated toward foreign aid. Controversially among Republicans, $250 million from the bill would comprise aid for Palestinians.
Trump remarked that small businesses, especially restaurants, have not been provided enough money after their owners have “suffered so grievously.”
“They were only given a deduction for others to use in business, their restaurant, for two years,” Trump added. “This two year period must be withdrawn, which will allow the owners to obtain financing and get their restaurants back in condition. Congress can terminate it at a much later date, but two years is not acceptable it’s not enough.”
Included in the relief package are increased jobless benefits, another batch of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small business loans, a direct payment of $600 to individuals, and funding to help facilitate the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Trump alerted Congress that if the “wasteful and unnecessary items” are not removed from the bill, the next administration will have to deliver a COVID-19 relief package.
“Maybe that administration will be me,” Trump added, still refusing to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden. “And we will get it done.”
The response from Democrats to Trump’s comments were generally positive, with them eagerly signaling their willingness to increase the amount of money in the stimulus checks to $2,000 per individual:
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.