Deadline passes: Trump does not sign COVID-19 relief bill

Two key federal unemployment programs expired early Sunday as President Donald Trump refused to sign a $900 billion aid package. The President continued to resist signing the measure, arguing that Congress needed to increase the size of relief checks from $600 to $2,000.

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The expanded unemployment benefits in the relief package affected more than 12 million Americans, The New York Times reported.

Trump also criticized the $1.4 trillion government funding bill that was attached to the COVID relief legislation, The Wall Street Journal reported. The President called it reckless spending during a time when federal resources should be focused on the nation’s economic recovery.

Early Sunday, Trump retweeted a video that showed him complaining about the COVID-19 relief bill.

Trump’s refusal to sign the 5,593-page, bipartisan package could also force a federal government shutdown when money runs out at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. The Associated Press reported.

The economic relief package that Congress passed would have extended the amount of time that people could collect unemployment benefits until March and revive supplemental unemployment benefits at $300 a week, in addition to state benefits, the newspaper reported.

The $600 stimulus checks Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin promised this week will not be sent, since the bill has not been signed. Other emergency relief programs that were part of the package, from rental protections to small-business aid, airline assistance and vaccine distribution money, have also been frozen, The Washington Post reported. Congressional leaders have said they will make one last attempt to avert a shutdown on Monday, the newspaper reported.

White House officials had the legislation flown to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday. The President spent Friday playing golf and, he said, making many calls.

Trump renewed his threat to veto the bill in several tweets Saturday.

“I simply want to get our great people $2,000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning.

Trump reiterated that thought in a tweet more than 12 hours later. “Remember, it was China’s fault,” the President tweeted.

House Republicans had rejected that idea during a rare Christmas Eve session, according to the AP.

“It’s a chess game and we are pawns,” Lanetris Haines, a self-employed single mother of three in South Bend, Indiana, told the AP. Haines could lose her $129 weekly jobless benefit unless Trump signs the package into law or gets the changes he is requesting.

The people affected by the bill are part of the expansion of the nation’s unemployment system that Congress enacted as part of the $2 trillion CARES act in March, CNN reported.