President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday called on President Trump to sign the coronavirus stimulus bill — warning that failing to do so would have “devastating consequences” for millions of Americans.
Biden’s push comes as Trump and Congress battle over the size of direct payments included in the mammoth legislation.
“It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority,” Biden said in a statement.
The president-elect noted that that stalemate comes as about 10 million Americans are about to lose unemployment benefits. An eviction ban will expire on New Year’s Eve.
“This abdication of responsibility has devastating consequences,” he said.
Congress passed a $900 billion COVID-relief bill combined with an omnibus spending package to keep the government open in a $2.3 trillion package. Both were passed by large majorities and sent to Trump’s desk to sign.
Trump has so far refused to sign it, objecting to what he called “wasteful and unnecessary” spending in the bill on areas such as foreign aid, and calling for the $600 stimulus payments to be increased to $2,000 per person.
“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple,” Trump said in a Twitter video. “I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation, and to send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a package, and maybe that administration will be me.”
Trump’s own White House negotiators signed off on the COVID relief package.
Meanwhile, Democrats have shown enthusiasm for the higher checks, but not for the spending cuts.
A unanimous consent request by Democrats for higher checks, and a Republican request to cut some of the spending, were blocked by their opposite parties Thursday.
As the stalemate continues, the prospect of another government shutdown also becomes more likely. Biden, in his statement, pointed to further consequences if no deal was found.
“In less than a week, a moratorium on evictions expires, putting millions at risk of being forced from their homes over the holidays. Delay means more small businesses won’t survive this dark winter because they lack access to the lifeline they need, and Americans face further delays in getting the direct payments they deserve as quickly as possible to help deal with the economic devastation caused by COVID-19,” he said.
Biden promised he will seek more relief for individuals and businesses crippled by the pandemic after he takes office next month.
“This bill is critical. It needs to be signed into law now,” he said. “But it is also a first step and down payment on more action that we’ll need to take early in the new year to revive the economy and contain the pandemic — including meeting the dire need for funding to distribute and administer the vaccine and to increase our testing capacity.”
Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.
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