President Donald Trump threatened to veto the latest bipartisan coronavirus mega-spending package Tuesday night, railing against legislation he branded a “disgrace” for favoring special interests with yet more unpaid deficit spending while ignoring Americans’ needs.
After denouncing Democrats for blocking another bailout bill for months until after the election, Trump slammed the proposal headed for his desk as far different from expected.
“For example, among the more than 5,000 pages in this bill, which nobody in Congress has read because of its length and complexity, it’s called the COVID relief bill, but it has almost nothing to do with COVID,” Trump said.
While admonishing lawmakers for including “wasteful” items, the president attacked both the $900 billion labeled “COVID relief” and the also pork-stuffed $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund the government.
“This bill contains $85 million for assistance to Cambodia, $134 million to Burma, $1.3 billion for Egypt and the Egyptian military, which will go out and buy almost exclusively Russian military equipment, $25 million for democracy and gender programs in Pakistan, $505 million to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama,” Trump complained.
The president also took aim at funding for Kennedy Arts Center in Washington D.C. and the Smithsonian Institutions, which remain effectively closed.
Although the omnibus bill and COVID relief package are technically in the same legislation, foreign aid and art funding stem from the $1.4 trillion in omnibus spending, apart from the funds allocated in the pandemic bailout section.
The president is also demanding lawmakers up the $600 direct payments to individuals and families featured to $2,000 and $4,000 for couples, higher than the $1,200 and $2,400 doled out in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March.
The demand for increased checks met enthusiasm from Democrats, quickly capitalizing on Trump’s calls for higher payments to blame Republicans for misrepresenting what the president wanted.
Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks. At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it! https://t.co/Th4sztrpLV
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) December 23, 2020
The New York Times reported House Democrats plan to bring the payments to the president’s requested levels by unanimous consent on Thursday, citing an aide familiar with the plans. Both the House and Senate have already passed the existing bill by overwhelming margins.
The $900 billion COVID blue-state bailout package also extends unemployment benefits at $300 a week for 11 weeks, for a total of nearly one year the unemployed can now spend on taxpayer assistance.