President Trump signs COVID relief, government funding bill

Five days after calling the coronavirus relief bill a “disgrace,” President Trump signed the massive $2.3 trillion COVID-19 relief and government spending package Sunday night.

The president’s decision to sign the package into law will avert a government shutdown, restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add additional funding to the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and invest in vaccine distribution, among other items in the bills.

Trump has also sent a “redlined version” of the bill to Congress, which includes an item by item breakdown and formal rescission request insisting that any “wasteful items” be removed from the bill.

“As President, I have told Congress that I want far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child,” Trump said in a statement issued by White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere on Sunday. “Much more money is coming. I will never give up my fight for the American people!”

On Tuesday, Trump slammed the $900 billion relief bill as a “disgrace” and claimed it has “almost nothing to do with COVID.”

“Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it,” Trump said.

“Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it,” Trump said.

However, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-NY, said that she and her committee’s Democratic majority plan to reject the president’s request.

“President Trump has indicated that he will now send a rescissions package to Congress that aims to reverse funding his own administration requested and undo the careful bipartisan agreement he has just signed,” Lowey said in a statement. “The House Appropriations Committee has jurisdiction over rescissions, and our Democratic Majority will reject any rescissions submitted by President Trump. By turning the page on this request, we will allow the Biden-Harris Administration to begin to Build Back Better.”

The announcement comes as the House is set to vote on a bill Monday that would increase direct payments to individuals from $600 to $2,000.

In addition to increasing the size of stimulus checks, Congress has promised that Section 230, a provision in the Communications Decency Act which shields social media companies from liability related to third party content on their platforms, will be “reviewed and either be terminated or substantially reformed” and that the House and Senate have agreed to launch an investigation into potential voter fraud in the presidential election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell applauded President Trump’s decision to “get hundreds of billions of dollars of crucial COVID-19 relief out the door and into the hands of American families as quickly as possible.”

“The bipartisan rescue package that Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration negotiated with the Democrats will extend another major lifeline to workers at struggling small businesses, renew major relief for laid-off Americans, invest billions more in vaccine distribution, send cash directly to households, and more,” McConnell said. “The compromise bill is not perfect, but it will do an enormous amount of good for struggling Kentuckians and Americans across the country who need help now.”

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham confirmed that Congress will vote on “additional stimulus checks and repealing Section 230,” calling the moves “all wins for the American people.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump’s decision “welcome news for the fourteen million Americans who just lost the lifeline of unemployment benefits on Christmas Weekend, and for the millions more struggling to stay afloat during this historic pandemic and economic crisis.”

“This relief legislation is a down payment on what is needed to crush the virus, put money in the pockets of the American people and honor our heroes – our health care workers, first responders, transit and sanitation workers and teachers,” Pelosi said in a statement. “We need to ensure robust support for state and local government to distribute and administer a vaccine, keep workers employed and prevent devastating service cuts – and we must do so as soon as possible.”

She added that Trump “must immediately call on Congressional Republicans to end their obstruction and to join him and Democrats in support of our stand-alone legislation to increase direct payment checks to $2,000.”

“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.

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