On Thursday, Dec. 24, lawmakers in the House of Representatives attempted to make changes to the $900 billion COVID-19 aid package that was recently passed by both the House and the Senate. The bill was rejected by Trump who demanded greater stimulus money for U.S. citizens. In addition to the coronavirus aid package, a $1.4 trillion spending bill was also passed by Congress, resulting in a massive, year-end spending bill of $2.3 trillion.
After Trump’s rejection of the bill, House Democrats tried to meet the president’s request of increasing the individual aid payment of $600 to $2,000. However, the effort was blocked by Republicans who opposed the increase. Republicans also tried to modify the amount of foreign aid in the package, something that attracted criticism from Trump. Democrats blocked this move. The House was then adjourned. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi later announced that a recorded vote on the stimulus check will be held on Monday.
“A few months ago, Congress started negotiations on a new package to get urgently needed help to the American people. It’s taken forever… However, the bill they are now planning to send back to my desk is much different than anticipated. It really is a disgrace… I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple… I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation, and to send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package, and maybe that administration will be me,” he said in a video.
Some of the foreign and domestic aid programs that Trump criticized in the video include:
- $85.5 million assistance to Cambodia.
- $134 million to Burma.
- $1.3 billion for Egypt and the Egyptian military.
- $25 million for democracy and gender programs in Pakistan.
- $505 million to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.
- $40 million for the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C, $1 billion for the Smithsonian, and $154 million for the National Gallery of Art.
- $566 million for FBI construction projects.
- Stimulus checks for the family members of illegal aliens, allowing such people to receive up to $1,800 per person, which is far more than the $600 amount proposed for Americans.
If issues in the spending bill are not resolved, unemployment benefits for 14 million Americans could soon lapse and the U.S. federal government will be forced to partially shut down starting Tuesday. A moratorium on tenancy evictions will expire on Dec. 31. Congress can pass a fourth stopgap bill by Monday and ensure that operations keep running. However, a stopgap bill will not include the COVID-19 aid package. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has purchased 100 million additional doses of the coronavirus vaccine to ward off the pandemic. “Under the agreement, Pfizer will manufacture and deliver up to 100 million doses of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, BNT162b2, to Government designated locations… Pfizer will deliver at least 70 million doses by June 30, 2021, with the balance of the 100 million doses to be delivered no later than July 31, 2021,” according to a Department of Defense statement.