2020-12-27 18:26:22 UTC
Other pandemic assistance programs are set to end and a government shutdown
looms as Trump spends his holiday at Mar-a-Lago.
Pandemic unemployment assistance, a lifeline for 7.3 million American workers
out of work because of the coronavirus, expired at midnight Sunday morning after
President Donald Trump continued to resist signing the $2.3 trillion package
that combines government funding with Covid-19 relief.
The bill, the result of protracted negotiations between both parties and the
Trump administration that the president himself largely sat out, includes a $900
billion Covid-19 stimulus package that would extend those unemployment benefits
$114 to $357 weekly payments to unemployed gig workers and self-employed
people whose business has stalled.
That package would also extend the federal eviction moratorium, which is set to
expire on Dec. 31. Without an extension, millions could face an immediate
The legislation would also fund the federal government through September 2021.
Without Trumps signature, the government will shut down at midnight Tuesday
After Congress passed the bill with large bipartisan support late last Monday,
Trump threw Washington into chaos by suddenly raising an objection to the size
of a new round of direct payments, which came as news to his own aides who had
negotiated them with Congress. He demanded lawmakers raise to the amount to
$2,000, as also criticized other elements he called pork included within the
mammoth spending package, including routine annual foreign aid payments.
Trump reiterated his criticism of the bill Saturday, tweeting, I simply want to
get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the
I simply want to get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is
now in the bill. Also, stop the billions of dollars in pork.
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2020
The Covid-19 aid package currently includes $600 in direct payments to Americans
who earned less than $75,000 in the previous tax year.
The amount represented a compromise between Democrats, who wanted larger checks,
and Republicans, many of whom opposed additional direct payments.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who proposed the $600 checks and personally
negotiated the stimulus package with congressional leadership, said in an
interview with CNBC on Dec. 21 that Americans could see the checks quickly. That
requires the president to sign the bill.
The House, where Republicans blocked Democrats from mounting a hasty vote to
raise the amount of the checks to meet the president's demand, is expected to
consider on Monday a stop-gap measure to avert a federal shutdown and keep the
government running until President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.