United States President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremony to present wrestler Dan Gable with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on December 7, 2020.
SAUL LOEB / AFP
Congress officially began on Thursday to send a massive Covid-19 aid deal and state funding package to President Donald Trump, who has not yet said whether he will sign it.
The Covid relief effort includes roughly $ 900 billion in spending on programs to help businesses and individuals suffering from the recession caused by the public health crisis, as well as spending on measures to contain the virus.
The state funding aspects of the bill, roughly $ 1.4 trillion, are necessary to keep the government from shutting down from Monday.
"The bipartisan COVID relief and collective bill has been registered," House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Wrote in a post on Twitter. "The House and Senate are now sending this important piece of #ForThePeople legislation to the White House for the President to sign. We urge him to sign this bill to bring immediate relief to hard-working families!"
The bill will be flown to Palm Beach, Florida and should depart around 4pm. ET, a senior Republican Senate adviser, told NBC News.
The president, who is based at his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, leveraged the legislature's month-long effort to reach an agreement on Covid-19 aid on Tuesday, one day after the laws were passed in both chambers of congress achieve, turned upside down.
Trump said the $ 600 direct payments approved by the bill were too small and called for the size of the checks to be increased to $ 2,000. The President also questioned parts of the state funding law related to foreign aid. He did not explicitly threaten a veto.
These comments surprised lawmakers on both parties. Trump, who had not participated in the recent talks leading up to the bipartisan deal, was widely expected to sign the bill. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin led negotiations for the White House on aid from Covid.
To save the deal at the last minute, House Democrats tried Thursday to increase direct payments to $ 2,000 in line with Trump's demands. Republicans in the chamber tried to get Congress to reconsider the foreign aid aspects of the spending package. Both steps, which took place in a short pro forma meeting, failed.
Coronavirus legislation would be the second major effort by Congress to provide a lifeline to those economically affected by the downturn after the laws passed in March.
In addition to paying $ 600 to most Americans, the bill would increase unemployment by $ 300 per week, extend the federal eviction moratorium, and allocate nearly $ 9 billion to ongoing vaccine distribution efforts.
While Congress could potentially override a presidential veto, it is not clear whether it would. And some provisions are meant to maintain programs that could end in the coming days while Trump decides whether to approve the legislation. For example, up to 12 million people will currently lose unemployment benefits on Saturday, the day after Christmas.
Democrats have announced they will be pushing for a third auxiliary bill, and President-elect Joe Biden has announced that he will table his plan early next year. It will be inaugurated on January 20th.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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