- President Trump called, among other things, to increase the $600 direct aid for adults and children to $2,000 per person.
- President Trump’s video message came as a surprise not only to Congress but also to many in the White House.
- Trump's call to increase checks to Americans was well received by Democrats.
US President Donald Trump surprised everyone with this harsh criticism of the $900 billion coronavirus aid package that was passed by Congress on Monday. In a video message posted on Twitter Tuesday night, President Trump called the package a “shame,” and vowed that he would not sign the law if it isn’t revised.
President Trump called, among other things, to increase the $600 direct aid for adults and children to $2,000 per person. He described the $600 checks, proposed by his own Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, as “ridiculously small.”
“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple.
“I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill, or else the next administration will have to deliver a Covid relief package.”
Via the Twitter video, Trump said the package “really is a disgrace,” full of “wasteful” items. “It’s called the Covid relief bill, but it has almost nothing to do with Covid,” said an agitated President Trump.
Approval was Considered Certain
In the same breath, President Trump called on Congress to remove allegedly wasteful and unnecessary items from the bill. However, the examples the President cites as evidence– development aid, grants for cultural institutions, fishing regulations– are not part of the aid package. Rather, they come from the budget bill passed at the same time, which comprises almost $1.5 trillion.
President Trump’s video message came as a surprise not only to Congress but also to many in the White House. He had not commented on Coronavirus aid and budget items for days and his approval was considered certain. President Trump’s refusal to sign the legislative package in this form could have far-reaching consequences, such as a government shutdown on December 29th.
Democrats are also Calling for More Direct Aid
At least one thing, namely the demanded increase in direct aid, is being well received by the Democrats. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gave her assurances on Twitter that the members of her party would enthusiastically approve an increase in direct aid.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made a similar statement. In this respect, President Trump’s video message is above all a shot across the bow of his own Republican Party friends.
The fact that the parties got together in both houses of Congress and approved the complex combination of coronavirus aid and a budget bill on Monday was generally welcomed in the United States. The agreement on the 5000-page legislative package was preceded by months of tough negotiations.
The fact that the urgently needed Coronavirus aid was a done deal before Christmas was seen as a conciliatory symbol. President Trump had recently no longer publicly commented on the negotiations. He seemed to concentrate completely on proving the electoral fraud he claims.