Millions of Americans risk losing jobless benefits as Donald Trump refuses to sign aid bill

Millions of Americans risk losing jobless benefits as Donald Trump refuses to sign aid bill

FILE PHOTO - United States President Donald Trump departs on a trip to West Point, New York from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, United States, on December 12, 2020. REUTERS-Cheriss May- File Photo

Millions of Americans are about to see their unemployment benefits expire on Saturday, as US President Donald Trump has so far refused to pass a $ 2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending law, insisting in that he did not do enough to help ordinary people.


Trump surprised Republicans and Democrats alike when he said this week he was unhappy with the huge bill, which provides $ 892 billion in much-needed coronavirus relief, including the extension of special unemployment benefits that expire on the 26th. December, and $ 1.4 trillion for normal public spending.

Without Trump’s signature, about 14 million people could lose those extra benefits, according to Labor Department data. The partial government shutdown will begin Tuesday unless Congress can agree to an interim government funding bill before then.

After months of arguing, Republicans and Democrats agreed on the package last weekend, with the support of the White House. Trump, who handed over power to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden on January 20, did not object to the terms of the deal before Congress passed it on Monday night.

But he has since complained that the bill gives too much money to special interests, cultural projects and foreign aid, while its one-time $ 600 stimulus checks for millions of struggling Americans were too small. He has demanded that it be increased to $ 2,000.

“I just want our great people to get $ 2,000, instead of the measly $ 600 that’s now on the bill,” the president tweeted on Saturday.

His refusal to sign drew a strong rebuke from Biden, who called on the outgoing Republican president to act immediately.

“This abdication of responsibility has devastating consequences… This bill is fundamental. It must become law now, ”Biden said in a statement.

Americans face an unprecedented Christmas season amid a pandemic that has killed nearly 330,000 people in the United States, with a daily death toll now repeatedly exceeding 3,000, the highest since the pandemic began.

Many economists agree that aid from the bill is too low, but say immediate support is still welcome and necessary.

CONGRESS WILL RETURN NEXT WEEK

A source familiar with the situation said Trump’s objection to the bill caught many White House officials by surprise. While the outgoing president’s strategy for the bill remains unclear, his repeated expression of discontent over it shattered hopes that he would sign it.

Trump spent much of Thursday and Christmas Day playing golf at his club in West Palm Beach, Florida. The bill was sent to Mar-a-Lago, his Florida residence, where it will spend Saturday.

On Friday, Trump said he has made many calls and meetings from his golf club, but neither he nor the White House provided details. He has been sending out tweets repeating his unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud and accusing his fellow Republicans of abandoning him in his attempt to overturn the election result, already rejected several times by the US courts.

Biden, whose Nov.3 election victory Trump refuses to acknowledge, is spending the holidays in his home state of Delaware.

US Democratic Rep. Don Beyer told CNN that Trump can still save the day if he signs the bill on Saturday. “That means people with pandemic unemployment insurance, which runs out today, can keep it … And the way to go if he signs this, on Monday, the House will take his check for $ 2,000 – direct checks – that we’ve been all the time. “

The United States Congress, which is normally suspended in the last week of December, will prepare to go back to work. The Democrat-controlled House plans to vote on legislation providing one-time checks of $ 2,000 to individuals.

Trump has also reiterated his discontent over a $ 740 billion bill authorizing the nation’s defense programs, legislation he vetoed last week. On Monday, the House is scheduled to vote on the override of Trump’s veto. If the House vote is successful, the Senate could hold its vote on Tuesday.

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