U.S. President Donald Trump attends a medal ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on December 3, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
In a stunning tweet Tuesday night, President Donald Trump called the US $ 900 billion Covid Aid Bill passed by Congress an inappropriate "disgrace" and called on lawmakers to make a number of changes to the measure, including larger direct payments to individuals and families.
Trump also suggested that his administration could be the "next administration," despite losing to President-elect Joe Biden. The relief bill passed by Congress on Monday was partially negotiated by a senior Trump administration official, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Trump himself had been absent from the talks before the election.
The president's tweet, which included a video discussing what he thought the law's many shortcomings are, including overseas funding, came less than 24 hours after the Senate passed the measure. The foreign aid provision is part of a $ 1.4 trillion move to maintain government funding that has been combined with the Covid Relief Act.
Trump did not threaten a veto in the video and was expected to enlist the laws along with the bill to keep the government open. Both Houses of Congress passed the legislation with a majority with a veto-safe majority.
"I'm asking Congress to change this bill and increase the ridiculously low $ 600 to $ 2,000 or $ 4,000 for a couple," Trump said in the video.
In another twist, House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, one of Trump's political arch enemies, agreed to his request for $ 2,000 in payments. "The Democrats are ready to unanimously bring this to the ground this week. Let's do it!" she tweeted.
The spokesmen for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The package includes, among other things, increased unemployment benefits, more small business loans, a direct payment of $ 600 to individuals, and funds to distribute Covid-19 vaccines.
Legislators wanted to avoid the expiry of unemployment programs that would result in 12 million people losing benefits the day after Christmas. They also tried to prevent an eviction moratorium from expiring. Without the moratorium, tens of millions of people could lose their homes by the end of the month.
The size of the direct payments was a major sticking point in the final bill, which came after months of failed talks and false starts as the economy struggled to recover and hundreds of thousands of Americans died from the coronavirus.
GOP Senator Josh Hawley and independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who is negotiating with Democrats, had called for $ 1,200 checks for individuals, which would have been what the government sent to people in the earlier stages of the pandemic this spring.
Mnuchin told CNBC earlier this week that people could get stimulus checks as early as next week.
Trump also said if Congress fails to deliver the aid package it desires, it will be left to the next administration.
"And maybe I am that administration and we will make it," he said.
Trump lost to Biden in the November election. Yet the president continued to falsely insist that he did indeed win the election and that he was the victim of widespread electoral fraud. Several judges have denied Trump and Trump's efforts in court to overturn Biden's victory.
Later on Tuesday, Trump hit the Senate Republican leadership, particularly McConnell and the Senate majority whip, John Thune, R-S.D. McConnell and Thune have said the Senate would not stand in the way of confirming Biden as the winner of the presidential election.