After Congress finally passed a COVID-19 relief bill on Tuesday followed by months of disagreement between Republicans and Democrats, President Donald Trump is demanding Congress alter the bill to send more direct payments to Americans.
The bill included a $600 one-time check for people making less than $75,000, as well as measures to extend federal pandemic unemployment benefits at $300 a week, add another round of funds for small business forgivable loans, transit funding, and more.
Many Democrats, including Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, dismissed the deal as inadequate to address the dire state of the country, with no dedicated aid for cities and states that would address localities' fiscal crises. The jobless benefits and one-time payments were half of what was presented this spring under the CARES Act.
In a video address on Tuesday evening, Trump called the deal a "disgrace."
"I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple," Trump said.
He is also asking Congress to rid the bill of what he called "wasteful and unnecessary items," referring to various funding allocation for international aid weaved into the 5,000+ page spending package that would fund the federal government through September.
Small businesses and restaurants didn't get adequate relief either, the president said.
"[A]mong the more than 5,000 pages in this bill, which nobody in Congress has read because of its length and complexity, it's called the COVID relief bill, but it has almost nothing to do with COVID," he said. Trump also disseminated more lies about election fraud in his Tuesday remarks, and suggested a different COVID-19 relief package could be passed in the months ahead under his administration, which ends in less than a month.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a tweet that Trump "refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks," but planned to move forward on a bill to increase the stimulus checks.
Pelosi said Democrats in the House will vote on the measure by unanimous consent, a floor procedure used to quickly pass measures if no member objects. A spokesperson for Pelosi said that vote would come Thursday.
"Let's do it!" Pelosi wrote.
In a message to Democratic representatives on Wednesday, Pelosi said Democratic leaders are waiting whether House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy would agree or reject to the unanimous consent vote.
Trump's Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had played a heavy role in negotiations for the administration. The NY Times reported he had been a part of 190 calls between December 14th and December 20th.
Democrats were quick to put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get the proposal passed in the Senate.
A spokesperson for McConnell did not immediately comment on what action McConnell would take.
The bill passed Tuesday with a veto-proof majority, the Associated Press reported.
In an interview with the AP before Trump's remarks, McConnell said, "My view about what comes next is let's take a look at it. Happy to evaluate that based upon the needs that we confront in February in March."