WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — President Donald Trump has signed a $900 billion pandemic relief package that will deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals. It also averts a government shutdown.
Trump announced the signing in a statement Sunday night.
The massive bill includes $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies through September and contains other end-of-session priorities such as money for cash-starved transit systems and an increase in food stamp benefits.
“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 in a statement. “I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell applauded the development in a Tweet Sunday evening.
“I am glad the American people will receive this much-needed assistance as our nation continues battling this pandemic,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi echoed McConnell’s comments on the importance of the legislation but said the latest relief package is just a start.
“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,” said Pelosi. “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.”
Democrats are promising more aid to come once President-elect Joe Biden takes office, but Republicans are signaling a wait-and-see approach.
Last week, President Trump pushed to increase direct payments for most Americans from $600 to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples. Democrats signaled they supported the move. Republicans blocked it. Now, with the president’s signature, the checks will be at $600 per adult and per dependent child, with caps based on annual income.
“As President, I have told Congress that I want far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child,” the president said in a statement.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to bring a standalone bill to the House floor Monday to increase check sizes.
“Now, the President must immediately call on Congressional Republicans to end their obstruction and to join him and Democrats in support of our stand-alone legislation to increase direct payment checks to $2,000, which will be brought to the Floor tomorrow,” Pelosi said.
Trump also said Sunday he will send Congress a “redlined” version of the government funding portion of the bill with changes he would like to see. Trump added he has the authority to request changes after the fact through the Impoundment Control Act of 1974.
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee — and the individual who would be the one to field Trump’s requested changes — said they are dead on arrival as he has already signed the package.
The COVID-19 relief bill will also extend a federal eviction moratorium into 2021.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 11 million families in the U.S. say they are behind on rent payments and nearly 8 million say they are not sure if they can make their next payment on time.
Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, told NewsNation the consequences of the moratorium not being extended could have been “catastrophic.”
“It’s a tremendous relief and it’s a relief for tens of millions of renters who were on the verge of being evicted this winter when the federal eviction moratorium expired this Thursday (Dec. 31). If the federal government hadn’t intervened and extended that eviction moratorium — as the COVID relief package will do — we would have been facing the very real possibility of tens of millions of people losing their homes this winter,” said Yentel.
This is a developing story. Refresh for updates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.