Trump signs COVID-19 relief bill after nearly weeklong delay

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — After days of opposition and hours before the federal government was going to shut down, President Donald Trump signed the $900 billion coronavirus relief package, the White House announced Sunday night.

Congress passed the legislation last Monday after months of negotiations in the Senate.  The package includes $600 checks for Americans who earn less than $75,000 per year, half of the $1,200 checks that were mailed out earlier this year.

After its passage, Trump initially called for the bill to be revised to include $2,000 checks and refused to sign it until his call was answered. However, he didn’t officially say he would veto it.

In a Sunday night statement announcing he had signed the bill, Trump called on Congress to make more revisions to cut down excess spending.

“I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed. 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 wrote.

Democratic leaders in both houses backed the $2,000 check plan, but the GOP leadership rejected it.  In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell applauded Trump for signing the package and preventing a shutdown “at a time when our nation could not have afforded one.”

Overnight Saturday, two federal pandemic unemployment programs expired, leaving millions of Americans without financial assistance. The relief bill is tied to federal appropriations legislation for the 2021 fiscal year, and had it not been signed, would have resulted in a government shutdown at midnight Monday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that the relief bill is a “down payment on what is needed to crush the virus.” She said House Democrats will bring legislation on the $2,000 checks to the House floor tomorrow. While a bill with that amount of financial relief is expected to pass in the House, it’s unclear if McConnell will bring the bill for a vote on the Senate floor.

“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,” Pelosi said in a statement.

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