President Trump on Sunday signed a $2.3 trillion COVID-19 relief and government funding bill that includes $600 stimulus checks for most Americans, after refusing to accept the deal for days.
The nearly 5,600-page bill passed the House and Senate by overwhelming margins on Monday night, just hours after its text was released.
Trump signed it several days after saying the legislation was a “disgrace” and calling on Congress to up the relief payments to $2,000 and scale-back spending.
In a statement Sunday night, the president said he would ask for millions in dollars of spending to be removed from the bill.
“I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed,” Trump said.
While the president insisted he would send Congress “a redlined version” with items to be removed under the rescission process, those are merely suggestions to Congress. The bill, as signed, would not necessarily be changed.
The bill authorizes direct checks of $600 for people earning up to $75,000 per year. The amount decreases for higher earners and people who make over $95,000 get nothing.
There’s an additional $600 per child stimulus payment.
The bill also creates a new $300 weekly unemployment supplement and replenishes a forgivable loan program for small businesses. It includes protections against evictions and money for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and cash-strapped transit systems. But the legislative package also includes measures unrelated to the pandemic, such as creating new criminal penalties including prison time for violating copyright laws with online streaming.
In his statement, Trump said that Congress on Monday would vote on a separate bill to “increase payments to individuals from $600 to $2,000.”
“Therefore, a family of four would receive $5,200,” the president said about the increase, which would require Republican approval.
The idea of giving out fatter checks is supported by the Democrat-controlled House, but is likely to be ignored by the Republican-led Senate, where the spending is opposed.
Still, both sides of the aisle welcomed Trump’s signing of the bill on Sunday night.
“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,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “I thank the President for signing this relief into law.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s decision to sign the bill was “welcome news” to a nation struggling to recover from a pandemic which has crushed small businesses and led to massive unemployment.
“This relief legislation is a down payment on what is needed to crush the virus, put money in the pockets of the American people and honor our heroes – our health care workers, first responders, transit and sanitation workers and teachers,” Pelosi said in a statement.
“We need to ensure robust support for state and local government to distribute and administer a vaccine, keep workers employed and prevent devastating service cuts – and we must do so as soon as possible.”
Pelosi also called on Republicans to join the president’s call to increase the individual stimulus checks to $2,000 per person.