Trump could veto COVID stimulus bill
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to not sign an $892 billion coronavirus relief bill that includes desperately needed money for individual Americans, saying it should be amended to increase the amount in the stimulus checks.
U.S. government operations are being funded on a temporary basis through December 28, waiting for the $1.4 trillion in federal spending for fiscal 2021 that is also part of the bill.
Failure to either pass another stopgap bill or override a possible Trump veto of the legislation could result in a partial government shutdown. The threat by the outgoing Republican president, who has less than a month left in office, throws into turmoil a bipartisan effort in Congress to provide help for people whose lives have been upended by the pandemic.
“The bill they are now planning to send back to my desk is much different than anticipated,” Trump said in a video posted on Twitter. “It really is a disgrace.”
The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate both passed the legislation overwhelmingly on Monday night.
Trump said he wants Congress to increase the amount in the stimulus checks to $2 000 for individuals or $4 000 for couples, instead of the “ridiculously low” $600 for individuals that is in the bill.
Trump also complained about money provided for foreign countries, the Smithsonian Institution and fish breeding, among other spending that is in the part of the legislation to fund the U.S. government.
Trump, who will leave office on January. 20 when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in, did not use the word “veto” in his statement.
The 92-6 vote in the Senate and the 359-53 vote in the House both are well over the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto, though some Republicans might balk at overriding a veto if Trump used that power.
A bill can be amended if congressional leadership wants to do so. If they don’t, Trump’s choices are to sign the bill into law, veto it, or do nothing and let it become law.
If the bill is amended, doing so by December 28 could be very difficult. It took months for the parties to agree to the thousands of elements in not only the coronavirus aid part, but the $1.4 trillion agreement to fund much of the U.S. government.
Even if leadership wants to amend the bill, it still would have to be voted upon by the full House and Senate. Also, many Republicans might balk at the $2 000 direct payments because that would boost the cost of the bill to well over $1 trillion.
White House officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s intentions. (Reuters)