Speaking in a video posted to social media, President Trump has criticized the $900 billion economic relief package passed by Congress this week. Trump demanded that the bill be amended, with certain items removed and higher stimulus payments and even suggested that he would veto the bill if it is not altered.
The relief fund includes $600 for almost every American, but Trump has argued that it should instead be $2000. Capitol Hill was largely shocked by the video, with both Republicans and Democrats who had been negotiating the package since July expecting Trump, who has largely stayed away from the talks, to sign the legislation into law after it passed through Congress on Monday.
“Throughout the summer, Democrats cruelly blocked COVID relief legislation in an effort to advance their extreme left wing agenda and influence the election,” Trump said in the video.
“Then 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.
“For example, among the more than 5,000 pages in this bill, which nobody in Congress has read because of its length and complexity, it’s called the COVID Relief Bill, but it has almost nothing to do with COVID,” he said.
The relief package is linked to a larger government spending bill, which accounts for foreign aid funding as well as $1.4 trillion in spending measures federal agencies funded for the next nine months. Some agencies will be forced to close if Trump chooses to veto the bill or fails to sign it by midnight Monday.
Legislation from Congress typically requires the approval and signature of the president before becoming law. If the president chooses not to sign the bill, a two-thirds majority in each chamber, the House of Representatives and the Senate, is required to overrule the veto.
To date, Congress has overridden fewer than 10% of total presidential vetoes. However, experts are suggesting that there is a good chance of enough votes from both sides of the political spectrum to do so this time.
“This bill contains $85.5 million for assistance to Cambodia, $134 million to Burma, $1.3 billion for Egypt and the Egyptian military, which will go out and buy almost exclusively Russian military equipment. $25 million for democracy and gender programs in Pakistan, $505 million to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama,” Trump continued.
“$40 million for the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, which is not even open for business. $1 billion for the Smithsonian and an additional $154 million for the National Gallery of Art.
Likewise, these facilities are essentially not open.
“$7 million for reef fish management, $25 billion to combat Asian carp, $2.5 million to count the number of amberjack fish in the Gulf of Mexico. A provision to promote the breeding of fish in federal hatcheries, $3 million in poultry production technology, $2 million to research the impact of down trees, $566 million for construction projects at the FBI.”
The 5,593-page package was unveiled by congressional leaders on Monday afternoon and then voted on just hours later, prompting several lawmakers to protest that they had not been given sufficient time to read the contents. However, the bill was passed through the House of Representatives by 359-53 and the Senate by 92-6.
“The bill also allows stimulus checks for the family members of illegal aliens, allowing them to get up to $1,800 each. This is far more than the Americans are given. 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,” Trump said in the video.
“And in particular, restaurants, whose owners have suffered so grievously. They were only given a deduction for others to use in business, their restaurant, for two years. 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,” he added.
“Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it. It wasn’t their fault, it was China’s fault. Not their fault. I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple. 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 COVID relief package, and maybe that administration will be me, and we will get it done. Thank you very much.”