Unemployment Aid Set to Lapse Saturday as Trump’s Plans for Relief Bill Remain Unclear


“Why would politicians not want to give people $2000, rather than only $600?” he said on Twitter, possibly referring to his own party’s move on Thursday to block a House Democratic bill that would have increased the size of direct payments to $2,000. “It wasn’t their fault, it was China. Give our people the money!”

Mr. Trump was largely uninvolved with the negotiations over the legislation, but his Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, was thought to be negotiating on the president’s behalf.

The aid bill also includes billions of dollars to help states with coronavirus vaccine distribution, a replenished small business loan program and relief money for airlines. It was passed along with a spending measure to keep the government funded for the remainder of the fiscal year, the cost of the combined package is $2.3 trillion.

Treasury Department officials, expecting that the president would sign the bill this week, had been planning to work through the Christmas holiday period to relaunch the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses and to push payments through direct deposit by early next week. However, that all now sits in limbo.

Lawmakers in Congress and White House officials have indicated that they remain uncertain if Mr. Trump will relent and sign the legislation, issue a formal veto or just leave it unsigned. While Congress could potentially override Mr. Trump’s veto, sitting on the bill — a so-called pocket veto — would require the next Congress to reintroduce and vote on the legislation early next year.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, said that she would hold a roll-call vote on Monday on direct payments legislation that would satisfy Mr. Trump’s call for $2,000 direct payments and put pressure on Republicans, who oppose payments that high. Congress could also be forced to pass another stopgap spending measure to avoid a shutdown.

Official figures released this week revealed the persistent stress facing the economy with personal income falling and jobless claims remaining elevated. An additional 398,000 people filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, one of two federal programs to expand jobless benefits that will expire.





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