Democrats on Capitol Hill applauded President Donald Trump’s signing of the $2.3 trillion funding measure that includes $1.4 trillion for government funding through next September and $900 billion for pandemic relief, while drumming up support for the $2,000 stimulus checks the president, and others, have called for.
“The signing of the bipartisan, bicameral coronavirus relief legislation is 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,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement late Sunday.
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), a former senator and current chairman of the House Ethics Committee, praised Trump’s decision to sign the bill in a tweet, while calling for more relief.
“Thankful that President Trump signed the relief bill, but I am still concerned we have not done enough to assist Americans through this crisis,” Deutch wrote. “Congress should return next year ready to work on additional relief.”
Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), offered mixed praise, decrying the president’s delay in signing the bill.
“While I am pleased that President Trump has finally signed the COVID-19 relief and government funding legislation into law, he should never have held up this crucial bill that Congress negotiated with his administration on a bipartisan basis,” he said in a statement.
The president’s signing of the bill came after a delay due to Congress’s failure to meet Trump’s demand to increase stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 per person. Trump had repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction over what he described as “wasteful” spending in the bill while Americans continue to struggle due to pandemic lockdowns.
Trump’s signing of the bill means a partial government shutdown is now averted, while financial aid for Americans will be delivered.
“As President of the United States, it is my responsibility to protect the people of our country from the economic devastation and hardship that was caused by the China Virus,” Trump said in a statement.
“I am signing this bill to restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP, return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more.”
He added that “more money is coming” and vowed to “never give up” his fight for the American people.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hailed Trump’s decision to sign the bill in a statement.
“I applaud 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,” 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,” the Kentucky senator added.
Trump said Sunday that along with signing the bill, he will invoke the 1974 Impoundment Control Act to demand “rescissions” be made to some of the spending measures. Under the Act, if the president wants to spend less money than Congress provided for a particular program, he can seek congressional approval to rescind by sending a special message to Congress identifying the amount he proposes to rescind, reasons for it, and the economic effects of the rescission.
“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 said.
Trump also noted that the House will vote to increase direct payments to $2,000 per person and $5,200 for a family of four on Monday, and that the Senate will also start the process for a vote.
Pelosi urged the president to call on Republican lawmakers to stop blocking legislation to increase the direct payment checks.
“Now, the President 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, which will be brought to the Floor tomorrow,” Pelosi wrote. “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.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), sought to drum up support for the larger relief measure.
“The House will pass a bill to give Americans $2,000 checks. Then I will move to pass it in the Senate,” Schumer wrote in a tweet. “No Democrats will object. Will Senate Republicans?”
Janita Kan contributed to this report.