Trump maintained while signing the bill that he will continue to press for the $2000 payment and for deletion of what he says is wasteful spending, including some foreign aid items, while acceding to pleas that for now $600 is better than nothing for Americans who are dire straits, many facing basic food shortages and eviction from rental properties.
“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,” Trump said, adding that he will send back to Congress a “redlined version” of he bill demanding deletion of wasteful spending items.
Budgetary allocation and spending is largely a congressional prerogative and Trump does not have line-item veto power, so the populist posturing by the President only allowed critical programs to lapse and delayed aid for millions of unemployed Americans. Democrats piled on to Trump, accusing him of causing anxiety and hardship to Americans who they said are “collateral damage to his political games,” even as they backed his demand for $2000 relief payment.
“The House will pass a bill to give Americans $2,000 checks. Then I will move to pass it in the Senate. No Democrats will object. Will Senate Republicans?” asked Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, after his House counterpart Nancy Pelosi said she would introduce a stand-alone legislation on Monday to increase direct payment checks to $2,000, and urged Trump to ask Republicans to back it.
The omnibus spending bill, of which the stimulus package is a part, also contains many foreign aid items and so-called “pork barrel” allocations that typically funnel money to lawmakers’ pet projects and priorities. Among those pertaining to the subcontinent are a $ 25 million allocation for promoting democracy and gender studies in Pakistan that has become symbol of wasteful spending priorities.
The political scrap in Washington comes even as President Trump continues to lose support of key allies who are looking beyond January 20 when he has to demit office unless he manages to torpedo the normal transfer of power as laid out in the constitution. Over the weekend, a prominent journalist who had long backed him signaled it was over for Trump.
“For almost 4 years I’ve supported @realDonaldTrump who was assailed by leftist creeps who conjured the Russia Hoax to wreck his presidency. Nevertheless he prevailed. Sadly he lost a bitterly contested election. Shit happens. However since then he has behaved like an entitled frat boy,” Geraldo Rivera tweeted.
Also abandoning Trump was his long-time sentinel New York Post, which ran a scathing editorial calling his attempt to overturn the election an “undemocratic coup” and characterizing his principals in this effort, former NSA Mike Flynn and his lawyer Sidney Powell, “crazy” and “treasonous.”
“We understand, Mr. President, that you’re angry that you lost. But to continue down this road is ruinous,” the Post editorial said, adding, “You had every right to investigate the election. But let’s be clear: Those efforts have found nothing.”