Here’s the latest for Wednesday December 23rd: Trump suggests he might not sign COVID relief bill; Trump pardons 15 people; Surgeon General observes vaccine rollout in Chicago; California Gov. names Senate replacement for Kamala Harris. AP Domestic
This week, USA TODAY Politics focuses on the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration and the effort in Congress to get through a fresh round of COVID-19 economic relief.
Dates to watch:
Jan. 6:Â Congress will count and certify the electoral results in a joint session.Â
Jan. 20:Â Inauguration of Biden, who will take the oath of office.
Be sure to refresh this page often to get the latest information on the transition.
Trump and Dems agree on something? Late attack on COVID stimulus sends Congress scrambling
President Donald Trump’s surprise video posted to Twitter Tuesday night has upended the sweeping COVID-19 stimulus package it took months for Congress to pass. Trump denounced the deal, calling it a â€œdisgrace.â€ The president urged lawmakers to increase the billâ€™s direct payments to Americans from the negotiated $600 per person.
“Iâ€™m asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple,â€ Trump said in the video.
Democratic leaders were quick to voice their approval for increased direct payments to Americans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to Trump on Twitter, saying â€œAt last, the President has agreed to $2,000 – Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also voiced approval for raising the value of direct stimulus payments to Americans, noting â€œWe spent months trying to secure $2,000 checks but Republicans blocked it. Trump needs to sign the bill to help people and keep the government open and we’re glad to pass more aid Americans need.”
The proposal has been met with less enthusiasm among members of the presidentâ€™s party. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not yet issued a statement on the matter.
Trump also took issue with funding provisions, like continued foreign aid and support for government-funded arts centers.
Trumpâ€™s late-stage denunciations have also likely complicated the situation for Georgia Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who both face challenges in a Georgia runoff on Jan. 5. Their Democratic opponents have both said that $600 direct payments were too small, while Loeffler and Perdue did not initially support payments in the package.
Trump stopped short of saying he would veto the bill, but if he did, lawmakers would have the numbers to override it.Â
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