Trump Signs Stimulus Bill, Averts Unemployment Benefits Lapse

President Donald Trump has signed a sweeping $900 billion pandemic relief bill on Sunday night (Dec. 27), The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) writes, averting a government shutdown and allowing millions of Americans help as the pandemic continues through the new year.

There was uncertainty over whether Trump would sign the package for the past several days after he announced objections to the bill passed by Congress last week.

Trump’s objections, raised just before Christmas and after Congress passed the bill, were that the $600 relief payments to individual Americans weren’t enough, and that Congress should raise it to $2,000 or he might not sign it. Government funding was set to expire at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday (Dec. 29) if the bill, which is a year’s end package over 5,000 pages that contains annual government spending and foreign aid as well as the pandemic relief, hadn’t been signed by then.

Trump’s signing of the bill came just after the expiration of two pandemic-related unemployment benefits that the $900 billion bill has now renewed, though they’ll be delayed because of the wait on signing the bill.

Lawmakers from both parties had been putting pressure on Trump to sign the bill.

Despite Democrats’ efforts to pass an amendment for $2,000 payments, House Republicans broke with Trump and refused to pass that amount when the Democrats tried to do so via unanimous consent on Thursday (Dec. 24). Trump is expected to continue pushing for individual payments of $2,000, according to WSJ, and there’s a vote set for Monday (Dec. 29) on the idea. It’s unknown whether the Senate will pass the measure.

Republican Senator Pat Toomey, according to a Bloomberg report, said Trump wanted to “be remembered for advocating big checks,” but would cause “chaos and misery and erratic behavior if he allows this to expire.”

Trump announced his objections via a video posted to his Twitter account last week, calling the agreed-upon $600 payments “ridiculously low” and a “disgrace.” During the negotiations between the two parties in the past few months, the matter of whether more individual checks would be sent at all was up in the air. Recently, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Josh Hawley pushed for new $1,200 checks to try and get the amount higher.