In surprising comments, President Donald Trump shredded a just-passed Covid-19 relief package Tuesday night, saying the legislation includes measures that have nothing to do with the pandemic and that it is too stingy with payments to average Americans.
“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 (direct payment) to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple,” Trump said in a video posted to Twitter of him speaking from the White House.
“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,” said, adding, “And maybe that administration will be me, and we will get it done.”
Before Trump spoke, all signs and expectations had been that he intended to sign the relief bill as soon as it lands on his desk, possibly later this week. White House aides, in fact, said as much.
While Trump didn’t explicitly say he would veto the legislation, his remarks suggested that he might. If he does, lawmakers might be able to override his veto, but if he simply refuses to sign it, the bill might die.
House Democrats, who had advocated higher direct checks only to encounter Republican resistance in the Senate, immediately said they welcomed Trump’s support for sending out more money. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland tweeted that Democrats would try Thursday to pass a separate bill that would send out $2,000 direct payments. Because many members of the House are out of town, Hoyer said, leaders will try to pass the bill by unanimous consent, but that means any single member can kill it. The fate of such a bill is unclear in the Senate.