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The president asked Congress to dramatically increase the size of stimulus checks.
President Trump on Tuesday evening posted a video in which he signaled he would not sign the spending package and coronavirus relief deal Congress passed on Monday after lengthy negotiations, increasing the risk of a government shutdown.
In the video posted to Twitter, Trump said the package, which contains $1.4 trillion in appropriations to fund federal agencies for the rest of fiscal 2021 and $900 billion in Covid-19 relief, was not what he expected and called it a “disgrace” that had “almost nothing to do with Covid.” He shared a long list of spending in the bill he considered unnecessary and wasteful, including $40 million in funding for the Kennedy Center in Washington, which is “not even open” and $1 billion for the Smithsonian Institution.
He also took issue with the size of the economic stimulus checks that would be sent to Americans under the deal, calling the $600 offered the “bare minimum” and demanding that lawmakers raise the amount to $2,000 or $4,000 for couples. “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,” he said, “or else the next administration will have to deliver a Covid relief package. And maybe that administration will be me. And we will get it done.”
Trump had been expected to sign the deal, but due to its length and the complex process of sending it to the president’s desk, lawmakers had passed a continuing resolution to fund agencies through Dec. 28. If Trump does not sign appropriations by that date there would be a shutdown.
Amelia Gruber is a senior editor at Government Executive.