President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday took President Donald Trump to task over his refusal so far to sign a coronavirus stimulus package with unemployment benefits for millions set to expire and government funding in limbo.
In a statement, Biden slammed Trump for holding up the roughly $900 billion in aid for Americans suffering from economic damage caused by the pandemic, calling the delay an â€œabdication of responsibilityâ€ on the presidentâ€™s part.
â€œIt is the day after Christmas, and millions of families donâ€™t know if theyâ€™ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trumpâ€™s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority,â€ Biden said. â€œThis bill is critical. It needs to be signed into law now.â€
After the passage of the bill, the president threatened to wield his veto power if the aid package didnâ€™t contain $2,000 stimulus checks for individuals.
Currently the bill includes $600 in direct payments to millions of households, an extended eviction moratorium and expanded unemployment benefits.
Video: Coronavirus aid at risk as U.S. lawmakers block Trump’s changes (Reuters)
House Republicans broke with Trump on Thursday and blocked a measure by House Democrats that would have provided the $1,400 in additional funds for every American making under $75,000.
Those close to Trump have signaled that he is increasingly dug in on the issue.
â€œI am convinced he is more determined than ever to increase stimulus payments to $2000 per person,â€ Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted after golfing with Trump in Florida on Christmas Day.
Trump offered little hope on Saturday that heâ€™d sign the bill as he raged against a long list of frequent targets in a tweetstorm, including the Supreme Court, FBI and Justice Department.
â€œI simply want to get out great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill,â€ he tweeted.
The bill, which also includes $1.4 trillion in regular government spending, was sent to Trumpâ€™s Mar-a-Lago resort on Thursday. Without a signature, government funding will run out on Monday night, triggering a shutdown.
Biden also suggested that the bill wouldnâ€™t be the last package of relief, calling it a â€œdown paymentâ€ on more action that he plans to take after being inaugurated in January to revive the economy and contain the pandemic.