United States government shutdown averted after Trump signs Covid relief package

·3-min read

President Donal Trump finally signed into law a 2.3 trillion dollar Covid relief and government funding bill after days of delays.

By signing the Covid relief package into law late on Sunday, United States’ President Donald Trump prevented a government shutdown as well as stopping 14 million Americans losing unemployment benefits.

Trump’s abrupt move to sign the bill came after most Republican lawmakers refused to back his call for changes to legislation they had already voted on.

Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania told Fox News on Sunday - before the announcement was made - that Trump wants "to be remembered for advocating for big checks, but the danger is he’ll be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior if he allows this to expire."

After months of wrangling, Republicans and Democrats finally agreed to the package last weekend, with the support of the White House.

Spending cuts?

But President stunned Republicans and Democrats alike when he called the bill a "disgrace”. He demanded that the bill be revised so as to increase the size of relief checks for struggling Americans from 600 dollars to 2,000 dollars while also cutting some other spending.

Many economists agree the financial aid in the bill should be bigger to get the economy moving again but say that immediate support for Americans hit by coronavirus lockdowns is still urgently needed.

After signing the CARES Act behind closed doors at his Mar-a-Lago beachside club in Florida, Trump said that "much more money is coming," though he provided nothing to back this promise.

With less than a month left in office, Trump is unlikely to get his fellow Republicans to back the extra money for individuals. It will be harder or persuade Democrats to accept spending cuts he says he wants elsewhere in the spending bill, particularly in cultural projects and foreign aid.

Global share prices ticked up in response to the news that Trump had signed the stimulus plan and backed away from a government spending crisis.

Bitter holiday

Americans are living through a bitter holiday season with a pandemic that has killed nearly 330,000 people in the United States and a daily death toll now repeatedly well over 3,000, the highest since the pandemic began.

The relief package also extends a moratorium on evictions that was due to expire on 31 December, refreshes support for small business payrolls, provides funding to help schools re-open and aid for the transport industry and vaccine distribution.

The package includes 1.4 trillion dollars in spending to fund government agencies. If Trump had not signed the legislation, then a partial government shutdown would have begun on Tuesday that would have put millions of government workers' incomes at risk.

Nany Pelosi, the Democratic Speake of the House, tweeted that the CARES Act is “a down payment on what is needed to crush the virus, put money in Americans’ pockets & honor our heroes”.

She urged Trump to “call on Congressional Republicans to end their obstruction and to join him and Democrats in support of our stand-alone legislation to increase direct payment checks to 2,000 dollars”.