Outgoing US President Donald Trump signed a new $900 billion stimulus plan for the US economy on Sunday, after several days of refusing to do so and millions of people losing their unemployment benefits.
Trump signed the bill worth $2.3 trillion on Sunday afternoon at his Mar-a-Lago (Florida) residence, where he is on vacation, the White House confirmed.
That package, known as the omnibus, includes the second stimulus plan approved this year in the U.S. and $1.4 trillion to fund the Administration through September 2021.
After five days of refusing to sign the bill and demanding changes, Trump apparently backed down to prevent funds for the Administration from being depleted on Monday night and hundreds of thousands of employees from having their pay suspended.
“I sign this bus and Covid-19 package with a strong message that makes it clear to Congress that the wasteful items in the bill must be withdrawn” from the text, Trump said in a statement.
The president assured that, despite signing the bill, he still expects Congress to approve a change in the item that contemplates sending a one-time payment of $600 to millions of taxpayers to compensate for the ravages of the pandemic.
After his own administration negotiated the $600 amount, Trump demanded to raise that amount to $2,000, and in his statement he recalled that the House was scheduled to vote this Monday to make that change, something that Republican leaders oppose.
Trump assured that the Senate, controlled by the Republicans, “will begin the process to vote to increase the checks to $2,000.
But in a later statement, Senate Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell merely thanked Trump for signing the bill, and did not mention any possible vote by the senators to make any changes.
Trump also assured that he will return the Administration’s funding plan with underlined parts to Congress for changes, but it is not clear that the legislators will change anything.
Trump’s change of heart came five days after he threatened Tuesday to block the bill if it wasn’t changed on several points, from increasing direct payments to Americans to reducing foreign aid.
His refusal to sign the law caused two programs that provided unemployment benefits to between 10 and 14 million Americans to expire this Sunday, and which will now be renewed when the law takes effect.
Trump’s blockade of the bill earned him criticism from several members of his party, and if it had lasted until January 1, it would have led to the end of a national veto on evictions, which would have affected some 30 million Americans.
The bailout that Trump signed includes $300 a week in unemployment benefits, $325 billion in business aid ($275 billion of it for payroll), $45 billion for public transportation systems, $82 billion for schools, and billions in food stamps, renter assistance, and vaccine distribution.