The rescue bill of “going out with a thousand calls” has encountered another bottleneck.
According to the Washington Times, on the evening of December 22 local time, Trump asked Congress to amend the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill just passed, saying that it contains too much foreign aid, while it does not provide enough aid to Americans in need.
Trump did not explicitly say he would refuse to sign the bill, but he clearly expressed his dissatisfaction with the bill, calling it “a complete shame”, according to AFP.
According to Reuters, on December 20th local time, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives reached an agreement on the coronavirus relief bill, hoping that the bill would inject vitality into the U.S. economy hit hard by the epidemic.
December 21, local time, the House of Representatives passed the bill by 359 votes to 53. Subsequently, the Senate also approved the bill by 92 votes to 6.
Trump: “This is a complete shame”
After months of debate and mutual accusation, the two houses of Congress have finally agreed on the size of the rescue bill funding, according to the New York Times. However, Trump seems to be threatening to undermine congressional efforts.
On the evening of December 22nd local time, Trump posted a video on social media expressing his dissatisfaction with the coronavirus relief bill.
Trump said in the video, “It took so long for members of Congress to negotiate a new rescue bill a few months ago. The bill that turned out to be delivered to my table was different from what I expected. (This bill) is completely a shame.
“This bill is over 5,000 pages, lengthy and complicated, and [I think] nobody in the Congress has read it.” Trump also accused him of “the bill is called the Coronavirus Relief Act, but the content has nothing to do with the coronavirus.” Trump believes that the bill’s foreign aid is too much, and he also hopes that Congress will remove “unnecessary and wasteful” items from the bill.
In addition, the bill provides for direct payment of $600 to the majority of the American people. Trump, who thought its bailout was insufficient, asked Congress to raise the “low and outrageous $600 to $2,000, or pay $4,000 to a couple instead.”
Trump concluded the video, saying, “[Congress] needs to give me a suitable bill, otherwise the next administration will be responsible for introducing a coronavirus relief package. Maybe the next president will be me, and then we will solve this problem.”
According to the Washington Post, last week, Trump expressed his dissatisfaction with the direct payment limit to his advisers, hoping to raise it to $1,200 to $2,000. However, advisers urged him not to interfere, saying that it might endanger the whole plan.
There are suspected differences within the Republican Party.
Trump himself did not get involved in the bill-related negotiations more, but instead handed over to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and members of Congress, according to CNN. The Washington Post pointed out that the “600 plan” that made Trump so dissatisfied came from Mnuchin.
The New York Times believes that Trump’s attack on the bill puts Mnuchin in an extremely awkward position.
Previously, Mnuchin helped Congress complete the negotiation of the agreement and “clapped” it after it was approved by both houses. On December 21st, local time, Mnuchin said, “If Congress can pass the bill today, it will be a perfect birthday gift for me.”
According to the Washington Post, after the Trump economic team publicly praised the bill, Trump’s statement shocked many White House advisers. Advisers described what had happened in the past few days as “chaotic and mysterious”. Many people know nothing about Trump’s video shooting, let alone his motivation for making videos. In an interview with The Washington Post, a government official said, “This is stupid, really stupid.”
Republicans in Congress have been working to keep the bill within 1 trillion dollars in the negotiations. Brendan Barker, who was Paul Ryan’s senior aide during his presidency of the House, said that “Trump administration officials helped negotiate the bill, and his move hit every Republican who voted for the bill in the face.”
In addition to nearly $900 billion in coronavirus relief funding, the bill also includes a 1.4 trillion agreement to fund the federal government’s activities through September 2021, according to Reuters. Rep. Adam Kinsinger, Republican of Illinois, accused Trump of conflating the two.
Democrats in Congress seem to enjoy the internal attacks on the Republican Party, according to the New York Times. Rep. Jamie Ruskin of Maryland said, “If Trump wants a check for $2,000, we can satisfy him.
Democrats have always wanted to push for a larger stimulus package.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, also tweeted in response that Democrats in Congress will push the bill to be approved with great enthusiasm.” Ultimately, Trump agreed to pay $2,000 to each of the people — and Democrats are ready to bring [the amended bill] to Congress this week and get unanimous agreement to let’s act.”
The New York Times pointed out that it is not clear whether Pelosi really intends to change the bill or just wants to annoy Republicans.
Senate Minority Leader, Democrat Chuck Schumer, also tweeted in support of the idea of expanding stimulus spending.
Schumer noted that it took the months for Democrats to get a $2,000 direct payment line, but Republicans rejected it.” The American people will receive more assistance, and we are very happy. Maybe Trump can finally play a role in getting Republicans to stop rejecting the proposal.”
U.S. media said that this move may be to please voters.
As the COVID-19 epidemic continues to escalate in the United States, as of the afternoon of December 23, Beijing time, the cumulative number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States has exceeded 18 million, reaching 18,27390; the cumulative number of deaths has exceeded 320,000, reaching 322,589.
AFP noted that any delay in approving the coronavirus relief bill would have terrible consequences.
In an interview with the New York Times, current government officials said that Trump did not like his claim that he was marginalized in the bill negotiation process, and that demanding Congress pay higher amounts directly to the public was actually a political move to please voters.
A senior administration official said Trump had told advisers that paying only $600 would not be welcome.
According to the analysis of the Washington Post, Trump’s advisers do not all support the bill. Opposition advisers used provisions such as foreign aid in the bill to make Trump oppose the bill. They know that the flow of US funds to other countries will cause opposition from conservatives, and Trump tends to pay attention to the opinions of conservatives.
“He trusts more conservative fanatics on social media than his own finance minister.” Buck commented.
According to the U.S. Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC), a senior Democratic aide said that House Democrats may submit a separate bill on direct payment of $2,000 to the people on December 24 local time. However, it is not clear whether the bill can be unanimously agreed in the House of Representatives.
The Washington Post analysis believes that Trump is unlikely to veto the bill completely. Because both the House and the Senate passed the bill by a huge margin, if Trump still tried to block the bill, Congress could overturn his veto within a few weeks.