Trump Signs $2.3 Trillion Relief and Spending Bill, Says More Money to Come

Trump Signs $2.3 Trillion Relief and Spending Bill, Says More Money to Come

December 27, 2020 Updated: December 27, 2020

 

President Donald Trump on Sunday evening signed the $2.3 trillion pandemic relief and spending bill after reaching an agreement with Congress over stimulus checks, Section 230, and voter fraud, the White House said.

Trump’s signing of the bill, which includes a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, means a partial government shutdown is now averted, while financial aid for Americans will be delivered.

“As President of the United States, it is my responsibility to protect the people of our country from the economic devastation and hardship that was caused by the China Virus,” Trump said in a statement.

“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.”

He added that “more money is coming” and vowed to “never give up” his fight for the American people.

This comes following a delay due to Congress’s failure to meet Trump’s demand to increase stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 per person. Trump had repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction over what he described as “wasteful” spending in the bill while Americans continue to struggle due to pandemic lockdowns.

Although the bill, passed by both houses of Congress earlier this week, was sent to the White House on Christmas Eve, Trump did not immediately act on it but instead renewed his pressure on lawmakers to revisit portions of the omnibus bill and to increase direct payments for Americans.

The president said Sunday that along with signing the bill, he will invoke the 1974 Impoundment Control Act to demand “rescissions” be made to the spending measures. Under the Act, if the president wants to spend less money than Congress provided for a particular program, he can seek congressional approval to rescind by sending a special message to Congress identifying the amount he proposes to rescind, reasons for it, and the economic effects of the rescission.

“I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed. 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,” he said.

Trump also noted that the House will vote to increase direct payments to $2,000 per person and $5,200 for a family of four on Monday, and that the Senate will also start the process for a vote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged the president to “immediately call on” Republican lawmakers to stop blocking legislation to increase the direct payment checks. But her statement was silent on actions regarding alleged voter fraud and legal protections under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act for internet companies that have engaged in censoring or political conduct.

Trump said Congress has promised to review the law, which largely exempts online platforms from liability for content posted by their users although they can be held liable for content that violates anti-sex trafficking or intellectual property laws.

Section 230 currently allows companies to block or screen content “in good faith” if they consider it “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable.”

Trump and his administration have repeatedly underscored the risks of unbalanced policing of user content on social media platforms, claiming that many Big Tech companies are engaging in conduct that limits conservative viewpoints and stifles free speech. The president has urged Congress to roll back the liability protections and went so far as to veto a defense-spending bill over lawmakers’ failure to do so.

“Congress has promised that Section 230, which so unfairly benefits Big Tech at the expense of the American people, will be reviewed and either be terminated or substantially reformed,” he said. “Big Tech must not get protections of Section 230!”

Meanwhile, Trump also said that both houses of Congress agreed to “focus strongly” on the slew of evidence of voting irregularities that allegedly occurred during the 2020 presidential election. The president noted that the Senate will now be starting “an investigation into voter fraud.”

The president and his legal team are fighting against the clock to seek a determination from the courts over mounting evidence they say raises questions over whether the 2020 election was stained by fraud and last-minute unconstitutional rule changes due to the measures introduced during the pandemic. If so, the president is seeking to invalidate ballots and allow state legislatures to decide on which electoral college votes should be counted on Jan. 6 during the joint session of Congress.

Trump has also demanded that Republican senators “step up and fight for the presidency” as lawmakers weigh in on whether to participate in a proposed effort to challenge electoral college votes on Jan. 6.

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan

Romney Says He Opposes $2,000 Stimulus Check Suggested by Trump

December 27, 2020 Updated: December 27, 2020

 

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said he opposes raising the stimulus check amount in the COVID-19 relief package to $2,000 from $600, as suggested by President Donald Trump and other officials.

“If we went to $2,000 per person, the additional borrowing would be up to almost $500 billion,” Romney said, according to Utah’s KUTV. “Someone’s got to pay for that. We can’t just have free money.”

The former Republican presidential candidate said he also opposed providing $600 stimulus payments.

However, Romney didn’t appear to be opposed to other spending measures included in the massive measure, including $300 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, billions of dollars for landlords, and $47 billion for transportation.

Trump reiterated on Dec. 25 that the $2,000 stimulus payments should be distributed in a new CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus relief bill.

“Made many calls and had meetings at Trump International in Palm Beach, Florida. Why would politicians not want to give people $2000, rather than only $600? It wasn’t their fault, it was China. Give our people the money!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Prior to that tweet, Trump had condemned the bill because, he said, it includes too many non-pandemic-related measures, including significant amounts of funding to foreign governments, as well as funding for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

House Democrats, after Trump’s initial comment about stimulus checks, rushed to schedule a vote on including them. Republicans in Congress blocked the effort.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) scheduled a Dec. 28 vote on a standalone bill to provide $2,000 stimulus payments.

“Monday, I will bring the House back to a session where we will hold a recorded vote on our standalone bill to increase economic impact payments to $2,000,” the House speaker said in a statement. “To vote against this bill is to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny them the relief they need.”

However, House Democrats “have conveniently ignored the concerns expressed by the president, and shared by our constituents, that we ought to reexamine how our tax dollars are spent overseas while so many of our neighbors at home are struggling to make ends meet,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said last week.

“Thus, Republicans will offer a unanimous consent request to revisit the state and foreign operations title of the omnibus so that we can fully address the concerns at hand. It will be up to Speaker Pelosi to decide if she wants to act on behalf of the American people.”

Democrats objected to the consent vote.

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