Trump signs coronavirus relief bill

President Donald Trump signed the bill that provides $900 billion in relief funds late Sunday night, saying that he will send a redlined version back to Congress with a formal rescission request to remove wasteful spending from the bill.

“I want far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child,” Trump said, adding, “I am signing this bill to restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP, return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more.”

Prior to signing the bill, Trump had called it a “disgrace” because he said the direct payments to American workers are too low, and because of unrelated spending in the overall bill that he described as wasteful.

That spending was meant to continue the current fiscal year through Sept. 30, 2021, to avert a partial shutdown. None of that spending was related specifically to COVID-19.

Trump signed the relief bill late Sunday night, even as House Democrats took up his challenge to increase the direct payments to $2,000 for American workers, while Senate Republicans took up his charge to trim spending in the budget continuation portion of the legislation.

Both efforts have so far been blocked by members of the opposite party in each chamber.

The bill extends enhanced unemployment benefits to jobless workers through mid-March. They will get $300 per week, an extension that also applies to self-employed and gig workers.

Trump’s delay in signing this second round of coronavirus stimulus funding, however, means that some 14 million Americans will lose a week of unemployment benefits, since two of the pandemic-related unemployment programs expired Saturday.

“The compromise bill is not perfect, but it will do an enormous amount of good for struggling Kentuckians and Americans across the country who need help now,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, said the signing of the bill is “welcome news for the fourteen million Americans who just lost the lifeline of unemployment benefits on Christmas Weekend, and for the millions more struggling to stay afloat during this historic pandemic and economic crisis.”

In Montana, Sen. Jon Tester said he is glad Trump signed the bill.

“This critical economic stimulus package isn’t perfect, but it’s the result of bipartisan compromise that will do some real good for families and businesses in our state. It’s good news the President finally signed it into law, and I’m thankful we were able to secure this badly-needed relief for Montana’s workers and small businesses that will help reopen our economy and get folks back to work.”

Sen.Steve Daines, R-Montana, likewise praised Trump’s signing of the bill.

“Glad to see President Trump sign the bill which will get relief to Montanans impacted by the pandemic,” he said in an email to the Sidney Herald.