Trump calls Covid relief bill unsuitable, calls on Congress to add stimulus payments

US President Donald Trump participates in a medal ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on December 3, 2020.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

President Donald Trump, in a stunning Tuesday night tweet, called the $ 900 billion Covid relief bill passed by Congress a “shame” and urged lawmakers to make a number of changes to the measure , including larger direct payments to individuals and families.

Trump has also suggested that his administration could be the “next administration,” despite his loss to President-elect Joe Biden. The relief bill passed by Congress on Monday was negotiated in part by a senior Trump administration official, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The president’s tweet, which included a video of him discussing what he sees as the bill’s many flaws, including overseas funding, came less than 24 hours after the Senate passed the measure . The foreign aid provisions are part of a $ 1.4 trillion measure to maintain government funding, which was associated with the Covid relief bill.

Trump did not threaten a veto in the video and was expected to sign the bill, as well as the bill to keep the government open. The legislation was passed by both houses of Congress with veto-proof majorities.

“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low amount from $ 600 to $ 2,000, or $ 4,000 for a couple,” Trump said in the video.

Spokesmen for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The program includes increased unemployment benefits, more loans to small businesses, a direct payment of $ 600 to individuals and funds to help distribute Covid-19 vaccines, among others.

The size of direct payments was a key sticking point in the final bill, which came after months of failed talks and false starts as the economy struggled to recover and hundreds of thousands Americans have died from the coronavirus.

GOP Senator Josh Hawley and Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who caucus with Democrats, had been pushing for $ 1,200 checks for individuals, which would have been what the government sent people in early stages of the pandemic in the spring.

Trump also said that if Congress did not deliver the relief package it wanted, it would be left to the next administration.

“And maybe this administration will be me, and we will get there,” he said.

Trump lost to Biden in the November election. Yet the president continued to falsely insist that he did indeed win the election and that he was the victim of widespread electoral fraud. Several judges have rejected efforts by Trump and his allies in court to overturn Biden’s victory.

This is the latest news. Please come back for updates.

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