President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday pressed President Trump to immediately sign a COVID-19 relief bill that is stuck in limbo, blasting what he deemed Trump’s “abdication of responsibility.”
Biden noted that the bill contains provisions for small businesses and extended unemployment benefits, as well as stimulus checks, and could help struggling families as they come up against the pandemic’s economic fallout during the holiday season.
“It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority,” Biden said in a statement. “This abdication of responsibility has devastating consequences.”
“This bill is critical. It needs to be signed into law now. But it is also a first step and down payment on more action that we’ll need to take early in the new year to revive the economy and contain the pandemic – including meeting the dire need for funding to distribute and administer the vaccine and to increase our testing capacity,” he added, indicating he’ll push for more relief once he takes office in January.
The push comes as members of both parties urge the president to sign the $2.3 trillion package, which includes $900 billion for COVID-19 relief and $1.4 trillion to fund the government until October.
The bill passed with broad, bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, but Trump blindsided lawmakers earlier this week when he blasted the package as inadequate and filled with wasteful spending.
The president specifically called on Congress to raise the amount of the stimulus checks for Americans from $600 to $2,000 and tore into spending provisions such as $85.5 million for assistance to Cambodia and $40 million for the Kennedy Center in Washington. He also falsely claimed that the bill provided more stimulus funds for noncitizens than citizens.
Unemployment benefits are set to expire on Saturday if they are not renewed, while a government shutdown would begin on Tuesday without action by the president or the passage of a new bill by Congress, which would also have to be signed by Trump before Tuesday.
“In November, the American people spoke clearly that now is a time for bipartisan action and compromise. I was heartened to see members of Congress heed that message, reach across the aisle, and work together,” Biden said. “President Trump should join them, and make sure millions of Americans can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads in this holiday season.”