President-elect Joseph R. Biden criticized President Trump on Saturday for refusing to sign a $2 trillion COVID relief and government funding package, calling the inaction an â€œabdication of responsibility.â€
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€ Mr. Biden said in a statement. â€œThis bill is critical. It needs to be signed into law now.â€
Mr. Trump reiterated on Saturday that he wants lawmakers to increase direct payments to individuals in the bill from $600 to $2,000. The president also said Congress should eliminate billions of dollars of â€œporkâ€ in the measure.
Congress sent the measure to the president in Florida, where he is spending the holidays, on Thursday. Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said after playing golf with Mr. Trump on Thursday that the president is â€œmore determined than everâ€ to increase the direct payments to $2,000.
Mr. Trump has stopped short of saying heâ€™ll veto the measure.
Mr. Biden said the presidentâ€™s failure to sign the package into law is having â€œdevastating consequences.â€
â€œToday, about 10 million Americans will lose unemployment insurance benefits,â€ Mr. Biden said. â€œIn just a few days, government funding will expire, putting vital services and paychecks for military personnel at risk. In less than a week, a moratorium on evictions expires, putting millions at risk of being forced from their homes over the holidays.â€
He said a delay â€œmeans more small businesses wonâ€™t survive this dark winter because they lack access to the lifeline they need, and Americans face further delays in getting the direct payments they deserve as quickly as possible to help deal with the economic devastation caused by COVID-19.â€
â€œAnd while there is hope with the vaccines, we need funding to be able to distribute and administer them to millions of Americans, including frontline health care workers,â€ Mr. Biden said.
The president-elect called the stimulus â€œa first step and down payment on more action that weâ€™ll need to take early in the new year to revive the economy and contain the pandemic â€” including meeting the dire need for funding to distribute and administer the vaccine and to increase our testing capacity.â€
â€œIn November, the American people spoke clearly that now is a time for bipartisan action and compromise,â€ Mr. Biden said. â€œI was heartened to see members of Congress heed that message, reach across the aisle, and work together. 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.â€