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Trump signs coronavirus relief, government funding bill into law

Members of Congress on Sunday had called on President Donald Trump to sign an omnibus funding bill and an associated coronavirus relief bill as unemployment benefits expired and a government shutdown loomed Tuesday. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Members of Congress on Sunday had called on President Donald Trump to sign an omnibus funding bill and an associated coronavirus relief bill as unemployment benefits expired and a government shutdown loomed Tuesday. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 27 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Sunday night signed an omnibus funding bill and an associated $900 billion coronavirus relief bill as unemployment benefits expired and a government shutdown loomed.

The pandemic bill extends billions of dollars in coronavirus relief to millions of Americans.

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"Good news on Covid Relief Bill," the president tweeted late Sunday before the signing of the bill was announced. "More information to follow!"

Members of Congress had urged the president to sign the pandemic relief bill and a $1.4 trillion omnibus bill to fund the government through September after Trump shocked lawmakers last week by panning the relief bill as a "disgrace" and calling for direct payments to Americans to be increased from $600 in the bill to $2,000.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., one of the most adamant voices supporting increased payments for Americans, described Trump's last-minute refusal to sign the bill as "unbelievably cruel" and called on the president to sign the bill that would restore unemployment benefits and moratoriums on evictions and allow Congress to approve $2,000 payments later.

"Sign the bill, Mr. President, and then immediately -- Monday, Tuesday -- we can pass a $2,000 direct payment to the working families of this country," Sanders told ABC News' This Week, adding that "the suffering of this country will be immense" if Trump does not sign the bill.

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The stimulus and funding bills are tied together, and while Trump did not threaten to veto the measures, he did not sign them when expected on Christmas Eve.

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In a statement on Sunday night, the president said he was sending back to Congress "a redlined version" of the coronavirus relief bill insisting that those funds be removed.

"As president, I have told Congress that I want far less wasteful sending and more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child," he said. "Much more money is coming."

If Trump had not signed the stimulus legislation before a new Congress arrives on Jan. 3, the bills would have expired, forcing lawmakers to negotiate another package.

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Rep. Richard Neal, chairman of the House ways and means committee, lambasted Trump for the "pointless delay" that he said cost millions of Americans pandemic unemployment assistance.

"His stalling only intensified anxiety and hardship for workers and families who are collateral damage in his political games," the Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement. "Now, people will need to wait even longer for direct payments and other vital assistance to arrive."

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., had called on Trump to accept that "you don't get everything you want, even if you're the president of the United States," while also calling for a separate negotiation on $2,000 payments.

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"I understand he wants to be remembered for advocating for big checks, but the danger is he'll be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior if he allows this to expire," Toomey said of Trump on Fox News Sunday.

Toomey, however, has expressed that Republicans were unlikely to approve the increased payments, after blocking an effort by House Democrats to amend the stimulus bill on Thursday.

"Why should we be sending $2,000 to people with a six-figure income who've had no suspension, no reduction of their income at all?" Toomey said.

"This money isn't sitting on a shelf. We're going to print it or we're going to borrow it, and I think the aid should be much, much more targeted. It should be targeted to people who've actually lost their job. Small businesses that are actually in danger of going under. Those are very real categories. The numbers are significant."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had said she would seek a roll-call vote on the proposal to increase the payments on Monday.

"Now, the president must immediately call on congressional Republicans to end their obstruction and to join him and the Democrats in support of our stand-alone legislation to increase direct payment checks to $2,000, which will be brought to the floor tomorrow," she said in a statement late Sunday.

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On Saturday, Trump posted on Twitter to "increase payments to the people, get rid of the 'pork," and included his video message from Tuesday expressing his dissatisfaction with the legislation.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell applauded Trump's signing of the bill, which he called "not perfect" but "will do an enormous amount of good" for Americans struggling amid the health crisis.

"I am glad the American people will receive this much-needed assistance as our nation continues battling this pandemic," he said in a statement late Sunday.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, said the House and Senate democrats will pass the bill to ensure Americans receive $2,000 checks leaving it up to Senate Republicans to decide if it will become law.

"No Democrat will object," he tweeted. "Will Senate Republicans?"

The bills had been sent to his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., where the president arrived on Wednesday.

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