President Donald Trump finally signed the COVID-19 relief bill and government funding package on Sunday night, ending a crisis of his own making that resulted in 14 million Americans losing their unemployment insurance and threatened to shut down the government during a pandemic.
His signature came after he spent much of the weekend railing against the legislation, demanding the amount of stimulus checks to Americans be tripled and wasteful spending be cut. The president was largely absent while his administration negotiated the details of the final package with Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill.
But, on Sunday night, came Trump’s sudden reversal.
‘I am signing this bill to restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP, return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more,’ Trump said of signing the legislative package that a week earlier he called a ‘disgrace.’
The White House issued a strongly-worded statement from the president with the signing announcement, where Trump said he was sending it back with lines marking out the spending he wants cut.
‘I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill,’ Trump said in the statement.
But the president doesn’t have line item veto power, which the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional. The package was signed into law as it was when Congress passed it last week.
Additionally, many of the spending items in the federal budget that Trump wants cut were in his original budget request to Congress earlier this year.
The White House also claimed it was getting other concessions from Capitol Hill, including that the Senate will start the process for $2,000 stimulus checks, will repeal section 230 that gives protections to tech companies from lawsuits, and start investigation into voter fraud.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement applauding Trump’s signing the $900 billion relief/funding package but made no mention of the three items Trump claimed he was getting the Senate to do.
‘I thank the President for signing this relief into law, along with full-year government funding legislation that will continue the rebuilding and modernization of our Armed Forces that his Administration has championed. His leadership has prevented a government shutdown at a time when our nation could not have afforded one,’ McConnell said.
‘I am glad the American people will receive this much-needed assistance as our nation continues battling this pandemic,’ he added.
Trump’s presidency ends in less than a month, on January 20th.