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Trump demands $2k stimulus checks, foreign aid cut from COVID relief bill before he’ll sign

Former President Donald Trump. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
December 23, 2020

President Donald Trump suggested he would veto the massive $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress Tuesday night if significant changes weren’t made, including larger direct payments to Americans and the removal of “wasteful and unnecessary” foreign aid items.

Trump posted a video in which he railed against the aid package, focusing heavily on the massive foreign aid contents while demanding direct payments be increased from the current $600 to a least $2,000 for individuals or $4,000 for a couple.

“Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it,” Trump said in the video recorded at the White House. “It wasn’t their fault. It was China’s fault. Not their fault.”

“It really is a disgrace,” the president said, adding, “It’s called the COVID relief bill, but it has almost nothing to do with COVID.”

During the video, Trump shed light on the staggering amount of money allocated for foreign assistance, including $135 million going to Burma, $85 million to Cambodia, $1.4 billion for the “Asia Reassurance Initiative Act,” $130 million to Nepal, $1.3 million to Egypt, $453 million to Ukraine, $25 million to Pakistan and $500 million to Israel.

“The bill also allows stimulus checks for the family members of illegal aliens, allowing them to get up to $1,800 each. This is far more than the Americans are given,” the president stated. “Despite all of this wasteful spending, and much more, the $900 billion package provides hardworking taxpayers with only $600 each in relief payments, and not enough money is given to small businesses, and in particular restaurants, whose owners have suffered.”

In addition to foreign aid, Trump lamented the millions set to go to cultural and arts centers, including $26.4 million to the Kennedy Center, $1 billion to the Smithsonian, $154 million to the National Art Gallery and $14 million to the Woodrow Wilson Center. The president noted that most of these facilities “aren’t even open” amid COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

Despite the president’s calls to increase direct payments to Americans and cut wasteful spending from the bill, the New York Post reported that Congressional leadership have considered a veto override that could occur during a post-Christmas session.

“The Democrat leader and I have agreed to unanimous request as follows: The Senate will meet for pro forma sessions only until Dec. 29 when we will return to session,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said from the Senate floor. “In the event that President Trump does elect to veto this bipartisan bill, it appears the House may choose to return after the holidays to set up a vote to consider the veto … In the event that the president has vetoed the bill, and the House has voted to override the veto, the Senate would have the opportunity to process a veto override at that time.”