Trump signs spending bill with relief package, but still wants $2,000 checks and other changes

Trump signs spending bill with relief package, but still wants $2,000 checks and other changes

Emily Cochrane at The New York Times reports:

 President Trump on Sunday abruptly signed a measure providing $900 billion in pandemic aid and funding the government through September, ending last-minute turmoil he himself had created over legislation that will offer an economic lifeline to millions of Americans and avert a government shutdown.

The signing was a sudden reversal for the president, who last week appeared poised to derail the bill. But the move came after two critical unemployment programs lapsed, guaranteeing a delay in benefits for millions of unemployed Americans. […]

But Trump has not given up pushing Republicans in Congress to add up to $2,000 in a stimulus check to Americans who meet income eligibility rules. He also wants a repeal of Section 230, federal legislation from two decades ago stating simply, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” 

In practice, that shields owners of internet sites from lawsuits generated by their users. And that’s something Trump has personal reasons for wanting to smash.

Do not push the start arrow below unless your supply of barf bags is close at hand:

pic.twitter.com/v9Rdjz6DNu

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2020

Signing the relief act a day late will mean loss of one week of unemployment benefits for millions of workers and the loss of benefits for one of the 11 weeks of extended benefits included in the relief act. Americans collecting unemployment checks who have been out of work for several months will thus lose the current week’s average of $320 in benefits plus the extra $300 a week Congress approved because Trump refused to sign by the Saturday midnight deadline. That meant the unemployment programs lapsed, which means the process needs to be restarted, which takes time, two-three weeks at least.

Rep. Nita Lowey has a choice take on Trump’s demands:

Ahem on rescissions… The last act of @NitaLowey‘s storied appropriations career is telling @realDonaldTrump to take a long walk off a short pier: pic.twitter.com/t8JRJKheE4

— Mike DeBonis (@mikedebonis) December 28, 2020

Although the signing means millions of Americans can sweat it a little less for a few months, unemployment insurance is not, as many Republicans would have it, an invitation to sloth. Benefit payments won’t even cover rent of many of the jobless, much less all the other things necessary for a decent life in the modern world. But it’s better than empty pockets.

His reasons for pushing $2,000 stimulus checks instead of $600 are self-serving and no doubt tied to some degree to keeping those Georgia Senate seats and thus the Senate itself in Republican hands, but it is nevertheless something the Senate should pass. Democrats have already said they are on board with this. Trump could, of course, have pushed for this in June or August or October when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was playing penny ante with the various versions of the HEROES Act, that Democrats passed.

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