WASHINGTON — On Sunday evening, President Trump appeared to suggest that he would be taking action on the pandemic relief bill, writing on Twitter, “Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow!”
Earlier, lawmakers had urged Mr. Trump to sign a sweeping $900 billion aid package after millions of Americans lost their unemployment coverage on Saturday as the president put the fate of the measure in limbo by pushing for bigger relief checks.
Mr. Trump’s resistance to signing the bill risks leaving millions of unemployed Americans without crucial benefits, jeopardizes other critical assistance for businesses and families set to lapse at the end of the year, and raises the possibility of a government shutdown on Tuesday.
The president blindsided lawmakers last week when he described as “a disgrace” a relief compromise that overwhelmingly passed both chambers and was negotiated by his own Treasury secretary and administration officials. He hinted that he might veto the measure unless lawmakers raised the bill’s $600 direct payment checks to $2,000, and Mr. Trump, who was largely absent from negotiations over the compromise, doubled down on that criticism on Saturday while offering little clarity on his plans. A White House spokesman declined to indicate what the president intended to do.
If the president does not sign the $2.3 trillion spending package, which includes the pandemic aid as well as funding to keep the government open past Monday, coverage under two federal jobless programs that expanded and extended benefits will have ended on Saturday for millions of unemployed workers.
Earlier, lawmakers criticized Mr. Trump for his refusal to sign the bill.
“None of us totally liked the bill — it’s the nature of legislating, you’re not going to end up with anything perfect — but we passed it because this was the agreed-upon number,” Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union. “I don’t understand what’s being done, why, unless it’s just to create chaos and show power and be upset because you lost the election. Otherwise I don’t understand it because this just has to get done.”
Multiple lawmakers, including Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, said that Mr. Trump should not delay signing the legislation and instead approve a separate bill providing for the $2,000 checks.
“What the president is doing right now is unbelievably cruel,” Mr. Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week.” “Given the terrible economic crisis facing this country, yes, we do need to get $2,000 out to every working-class individual in this country, $500 for their kid. But you can’t diddle around with the bill.”
Members of the bipartisan group that helped break the logjam over a stimulus deal issued a statement pressing Mr. Trump to either sign or veto the bill, and “allow those in favor to act before it is too late.”
Two governors also said that the time for negotiations had passed. On “State of the Union,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a Democrat, said that she had long supported stimulus checks of $2,000, but that it was too late in the process to be making those kinds of requests.
“Sign the bill, get it done, and then if the president wants to push for more, let’s get that done too,” said Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican who also appeared on the show.
Another governor, Jay Inslee of Washington, said that Mr. Trump “has chosen to hold the entire relief package hostage.” Mr. Inslee, a Democrat, announced on Sunday that the state would provide $54 million in funding for almost 100,000 people set to lose unemployment assistance benefits.
Though they harshly criticized Mr. Trump, two progressive representatives-elect joined the president’s call for greater direct payments. On “State of the Union,” Jamaal Bowman, Democrat of New York, claimed that the president was “posturing to make himself, to bring himself back as the hero of the American people” after his defeat in November. But like Mr. Trump, he said Americans needed more relief.
“It needs to at least be $2,000, so he needs to talk to his Republican buddies and say ‘give the people the money,’” said Cori Bush, Democrat of Missouri, who also called the $600 figure a “slap in the face to people who are suffering.”
Democrats, who have long advocated increasing the amount of financial relief distributed across the country, plan to hold a vote on Monday to approve a stand-alone bill that would increase the payments to $2,000. It is unclear whether that legislation will stand a chance in the Senate, where Republicans have long been resistant to spending more than $1 trillion on pandemic relief.
Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, said that he would oppose such a measure and urged the president to sign the bill, adding that “time is running out.”
“I understand he wants to be remembered for advocating for big checks,” Mr. Toomey said on “Fox News Sunday.” “But the danger is he’ll be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior if he allows this to expire.”
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