Trump’s rejection of stimulus bill leaves millions without jobless aid

By Lucia Leal

Washington, Dec 27 (efe-epa).- The refusal of President Donald Trump to sign a new congressionally-approved stimulus plan on Sunday left millions of Americans without key unemployment support and also threatens to partially shut down the US government and put an end to the moratorium on rental tenant evictions.

Several Republican politicians on Sunday criticized Trump, who heads the GOP, for not signing the bill approved last Monday by Congress, a measure that would inject $900 million into the economy to mitigate the ongoing damage being caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey told Fox News that Trump would be remembered for “chaos, misery and erratic behavior,” adding that “You don’t get everything you want, even if you’re president of the United States.”

At midnight on Saturday, two programs that provided unemployment aid to between 10-14 million Americans expired, but they would not have ceased had Trump signed the bill.

The new legislation not only extended the special programs created during the pandemic but also included payments of an extra $300 per week up until March 14 for jobless workers.

Many people who have lost their jobs can still resort to unemployment loans provided by their states of residence, which cover 90 percent of the country’s workers, but the programs that lapsed on Saturday night were important for self-employed people and others who have exhausted the traditional resources that have been helping see them through this economic crisis.

The end of the unemployment loans was the first impact on the lives of Americans resulting from the disagreement surrounding the recently approved stimulus plan, but there could be two additional serious consequences over the course of the coming week.

If Trump does not sign the spending bill accompanying the stimulus package by Monday night, the government will run out of funding and will have to partially shut down on Tuesday, the 29th, if a temporary funding measure is not approved by lawmakers.

And if the stimulus package does not become law by Dec. 31, at midnight on that date a national moratorium prohibiting landlords from evicting renters who have not been able to pay their rent will also expire, a situation that would put some 30 million people at risk of losing their residences in the coming weeks.

Trump has refused to sign the bill approved last Monday by both chambers of Congress – not only the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives but also the Republican-controlled Senate – if certain changes are not made to the legislation, including a substantial increase in direct payments to Americans and a reduction in foreign aid.

In a Twitter message posted shortly after midnight on Sunday, when the programs for the unemployed had already lapsed, Trump insisted once again on his key demand, saying: “Increase payments to the people.”

Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger on Sunday lamented Trump’s stance, telling CNN that the current stimulus package is precisely what the president negotiated via Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

After months of talks in which Mnuchin proposed that the direct payments to millions of taxpayers be set at $600, Trump now says he wants Congress to hike those payments to $2,000 rather than the “ridiculously low” figure.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday plans to submit to a lower chamber vote the president’s proposal to up the payments to $2,000, but that effort is expected to fail, as occurred last Thursday when an initial attempt was made, due to Republican opposition.

President-elect Joe Biden and several Republicans have been publicly urging Trump to sign the stimulus bill as is and then later to negotiate improvements or add-ons to it, if necessary, but the outgoing president, who will leave office on Jan. 20, does not appear disposed to succumb to that pressure.

If Trump vetoes the bill, Congress would have to override that veto and would have several options to do so, but everything points to the probability that the president’s strategy is to refuse to either sign or veto it, thus ensuring that it will “die” on Jan. 3, a technique known as a “pocket veto.”

On that day, a new Congress will be sworn in – as per the results of the Nov. 3 nationwide elections – and those incoming legislators will have to sit down once again, negotiate and approve a new stimulus plan because the old one approved during the previous congressional session will no longer be valid.

Trump’s maneuver comes – according to many political analysts – because of his desire to exact revenge on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for having acknowledged Biden’s victory earlier this month, a move that has been anathema to the president, who continues to pursue what many say is a delusional campaign to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 vote and retain the presidency.

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