President Trump doubled down on his demand Friday for increased coronavirus-related stimulus checks to working-class Americans.
Trump again tweeted his demand for $2,000 checks rather than the $600 proposed in the mammoth spending bill approved by Congress earlier this week.
“Made many calls and had meetings at Trump International in Palm Beach, Florida. Why would politicians not want to give people $2000, rather than only $600? It wasnâ€™t their fault, it was China,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Give our people the money!”
Trump and other critics of the bill have deemed the billÂ 5,500 pages of pork-barrel spending rather than an earnest attempt to help struggling Americans beset by gubernatorial economic lockdowns and the overall drop in commerce ushered in by the pandemic.
“Itâ€™s called the Covid relief bill but it has almost nothing to do with Covid,” the president said Thursday, going on to point to a provision in the bill that would triple the $600 check for family members of illegal aliens — to $1,800: “This is far more than the Americans are given,” he said.
Libertarians and progressives have also found unusual common ground in their opposition to the legislation. The progressive “Squad” of progressive representatives called for an amendment that provides the $2,000 payments.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., a member of “The Squad” from Boston, expressed such sentiment in a tweet appearing to praise Trump for taking a “hard lineÂ in support of what Progressives have been fighting for.” But she called the president the “Occupant of the White House” and accused him of trying to “spite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Trump has been upset with McConnell because ofÂ the Kentuckian’s reticence to supportÂ challenges to the 2020 election tallies.
“Honestly, whatever gets my constituents survival checks,” Pressley remarked.Â
On the other side of the aisle, one of the president’s frequent defenders, retiring GOP Rep. Peter King of New York wroteÂ a lengthy Facebook post explaining that the line items in the bill objected to by the president were “specifically requested by the Trump administration.”
“You got that — every item,” King wrote. “That includes aid to Egypt, Pakistan, Burma, Sudan and Central America, and funding for the Smithsonian.”
“Additionally it was totally deceptive for the president to say that Congress failed to provide assistance to restaurants. The truth is that [Queens Democratic] Congresswoman Grace Meng and I co-sponsored legislation to give direct grants to restaurants but the Trump Administration adamantly refused to assist restaurants.”
King and Meng’s state of New York, along withÂ Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, and California among others.Â has been hit hard by economic “shutdowns” imposed by the state governments, which have in turn crippled the restaurant and entertainment industries.
In his post, King made it clear that he was not intentionally critiquing Trump with his remarks, applauding his fellow New Yorker’s record, especially on law and order.
“Believe me I donâ€™t take any satisfaction in pointing out how wrong the President is. I have strongly supported the President and worked hard for his re-election,” he said. “I am particularly indebted to him for his outstanding leadership in stopping MS-13â€™s killing rampage on Long Island, crushing the ISIS caliphate in the Middle East and standing with the police.”
King said he felt the need to “set the record straight” after watching Republicans who supported the billÂ getting attacked by “rabid, uninformed comments.”Â
On Wednesday,Â Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., urged Trump to go ahead and sign the $908 billion relief package, echoing King’s sentiment that the administration was indeed closely involved in negotiations with Congress.
“We negotiated the bill, andÂ the presidentâ€™s people wereÂ intimately involved every stepÂ of the way,” the Allentown, Pa., lawmaker told Fox News’ “The Daily Briefing.”Â TreasuryÂ “Secretary Steve Mnuchin wasÂ arguably one of the mostÂ involved people in this wholeÂ negotiation.”
Toomey, a noted fiscal hawk, added that he too has manyÂ issues with some of the bill’s expenditures.
“There are a lot of provisions IÂ donâ€™t like,” Toomey said. “There are provisions that theÂ Democrats donâ€™t like. This is what we were able to getÂ to, and my suggestion would beÂ letâ€™s pass this and get thisÂ signed, let’s get thisÂ into law, and we canÂ have an ongoing discussion aboutÂ whether there should beÂ additional direct payments orÂ not.”
In addition, conservative Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., succinctly summed up what he saw as the overarching issue with the legislation causing the sudden political turmoil:
“I didnâ€™t vote for the bill but I respect the people who did vote for it,” he tweeted. “We were given two bad choices. (1) Fund everything or (2) Fund nothing. I hope my colleagues will be forthright and admit that this is legislative malpractice. One bill should cover one topic, not 1,000.”
Fox News’ Joshua Nelson and Dom Calicchio contributed to this report.