US President Donald Trump capitulated to Congressional pressure on Sunday night and signed the pandemic relief bill that he had called a disgrace earlier in the week. The executive surrender averted a government shutdown and released $900 billion in stimulus funds into the economy, including a $600 relief payment Trump and many Democratic lawmakers felt was paltry but was the best fiscally conservative Republicans would agree to.
Trump maintained while signing the bill that he will continue to press for the $2000 payment and for deletion of what he says is wasteful spending, including some foreign aid items while acceding to pleas that for now $600 is better than nothing for Americans who are dire straits, many facing basic food shortages and eviction from rental properties.
“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,” Donald Trump said, adding that he will send back to Congress a “redlined version” of the bill demanding deletion of wasteful spending items.
Budgetary allocation and spending is largely a congressional prerogative; and Trump does not have line-item veto power, so the populist posturing; by the President only allowed critical programs to lapse; and delayed aid for millions of unemployed Americans. Democrats piled on to Donald Trump, accusing him of causing anxiety; and hardship to Americans who they said is “collateral damage to his political games,” even as they backed his demand for a $2000 relief payment.
“The House will pass a bill to give Americans $2000 checks. Then I will move to pass it in the Senate. No Democrats will object. Will Senate Republicans?” asked Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, after his House counterpart; Nancy Pelosi said she would introduce stand-alone legislation on Monday to increase direct payment; check on $2000 and urged Trump to ask Republicans to back it.
The omnibus spending bill, of which the stimulus package; is a part, also contains many foreign aid items and so-called “pork Barrel” allocations that typically funnel money; to lawmakers’ pet projects and priorities. Among those pertaining to the subcontinent are a $25 million allocation for promoting democracy; and gender studied in Pakistan that has become the symbol of wasteful spending priorities.
The political scrap in Washington comes even as President Donald Trump; continues to lose the support of key allies who are looking beyond January 20 when he has to demit office unless he manages to torpedo the normal transfer of power; as laid out in the constitution. Over the weekend, a prominent journalist who had long backed him signalled it was over for Trump.
Geraldo Rivera tweeted, “For almost 4 years I have supported @realDonaldTRump who was assailed by leftist creeps who conjured the Russia Hoax to wreck his presidency. Nevertheless, he prevailed. Sadly he lost a bitterly contested election. Shit happens. However, since then, he has behaved like an entitled frat boy.”
Also abandoning Donald Trump was his long-time sentinel New York Post, which ran a scathing editorial calling his attempt to overturn the election an “undemocratic coup” and characterizing his principals in this effort, former NSA Mike Flynn and his lawyer Sidney Powell, “crazy” and “treasonous”.