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Biden calls for Trump to sign COVID-19 economic relief package

Trump shuns COVID bill as relief expires
Trump shuns COVID bill as relief expires 03:37

President-elect Joe Biden has called on President Trump to sign the bipartisan end-of-year spending bill that would provide $600 COVID relief checks to most Americans. The president has demanded the checks be increased to $2,000 — a Democratic proposal his own party rejected on Christmas Eve

"It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don't know if they'll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump's refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority," Mr. Biden said in a statement on Saturday. 

Mr. Trump tweeted on Saturday "I simply want to get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill." Mr. Trump also indicated he wanted to get rid of the "pork" in the bill.

Mr. Trump indicated in a video posted to Twitter Tuesday that he would not sign the $900 billion relief package passed by both houses of Congress on Monday. The package provides $600 in direct payments for adults making up to $75,000 per year, as well as $600 toward each dependent child under 17 years old.

If the president does not sign the bill, he will not only delay money needed by millions of Americans; he will also put relief provisions already in place — but set to expire at the end of the month — such as unemployment programs and an eviction moratorium, in jeopardy.

Roughly 12 million Americans are set to lose unemployment benefits the day after Christmas if these programs expire. The bill also included an additional $300 per week in unemployment insurance; aid for small businesses; funding for testing, tracing and vaccine distribution; additional money to increase SNAP benefits; and aid for airlines and transportation.

"Today, about 10 million Americans will lose unemployment insurance benefits," Mr. Biden warned in his statement urging Trump to sign the bill. "In just a few days, government funding will expire, putting vital services and paychecks for military personnel at risk. In less than a week, a moratorium on evictions expires, putting millions at risk of being forced from their homes over the holidays."

The president is currently at his home in Palm Beach, Florida, where the bill was flown Thursday evening for his signature — or veto. Mr. Trump spent the day before Christmas golfing, and, two days later, has yet to announce his plan for the bill. He tweeted about the bill twice on Saturday, amongst numerous others about the "rigged" and "stolen" presidential election, which he continues to claim, without evidence, contained widespread voter fraud. 

Mr. Biden called Trump's inaction an "abdication of responsibility" with "devastating consequences." 

"Delay means more small businesses won't survive this dark winter because they lack access to the lifeline they need, and Americans face further delays in getting the direct payments they deserve as quickly as possible to help deal with the economic devastation caused by COVID-19," reads the president-elect's statement. "And while there is hope with the vaccines, we need funding to be able to distribute and administer them to millions of Americans, including frontline health care workers."

"In November, the American people spoke clearly that now is a time for bipartisan action and compromise. I was heartened to see members of Congress heed that message, reach across the aisle, and work together," the statement continued. "President Trump should join them, and make sure millions of Americans can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads in this holiday season."

In addition to demanding an increase to $2,000 in the economic relief package, Mr. Trump on Wednesday vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act over a portion of it known as Section 230, which provides legal immunity to tech companies, such as YouTube and Facebook, for content posted on their sites. The president and some Republicans in Congress have accused tech firms of using the law as a shield when allegedly censoring conservative voices, and have pushed to repeal it

"I will not stand by and watch this travesty of a bill happen without reigning in Big Tech. End Section 230 now, before it is too late," the president tweeted on Saturday. "So bad for our Country. Show courage, and do what's right!!!"

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