President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday not to sign a $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.
The outgoing Republican president’s threat, with 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.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi was quick to embrace Trump’s call for bigger checks in the relief package.
After the president posted his video, she tweeted: “Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks. At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!”
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the legislation 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 currently in the bill.
Trump also complained about money in the legislation for foreign countries, the Smithsonian Institution and fish breeding, among other spending.
“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.