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Trump: ‘Good news’ coming as lawmakers urge him to sign bill

Eric Martin

Lawmakers across the political spectrum urged President Donald Trump to sign the $900 billion coronavirus stimulus bill passed with bipartisan support last week, as millions of Americans face a loss in benefits.

Sunday evening, after a rare day of being mostly silent on Twitter, Trump posted that “good news” was coming on the COVID relief bill, raising hopes that he planned to sign the legislation he’d criticized for days.

President Donald Trump rides in a motorcade vehicle as he departs Trump International Golf Club, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Earlier, Republican Senator Pat Toomey said Trump risked being remembered for creating “chaos and misery” at the end of his term if he takes no action on two crucial and intertwined spending bills and triggers a government shutdown.

The Trump administration helped negotiate the stimulus effort, and if the president believes direct stimulus checks should be increased, he should approve the current proposal and return to Congress with a request for more aid, Pennsylvania’s Toomey said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The $2,000-per-person checks demanded by Trump are too high for people who haven’t lost income as a result of COVID-19, Toomey said, making the case for more targeted aid.

“I understand he wants to be remembered for advocating for big checks, but the danger is he’ll be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior if he allows this to expire,” Toomey said. “The best thing to do is sign this and then make the case for subsequent legislation.”

Trump has taken no action on the stimulus bill that Congress approved last week, beyond expressing his displeasure with a series of tweets and videos over the past few days.

A group of bipartisan lawmakers, the “908 coalition,” released a statement saying Trump must either sign the emergency relief bill, or veto it outright – at which point Congress could attempt to override the veto.

“If your objection to the COVID-19 relief bill will prevent you from signing, please veto it immediately. You’ve made your position clear and rejecting it quickly will allow those in favor to act before it is too late,” the lawmakers said.

Surprise decision

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Republican Larry Hogan, governor of Maryland, also urged Trump to back the bill, calling it “not enough” but a step in the right direction in the waning days of 2020 and the current Congress.

“Sign the bill, get it done. And then, if the president wants to push for more, let’s get that done too,” Hogan said. He added that Trump “should have weighed in” with his thoughts on the matter months ago.

Also on CNN, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, a GOP critic of Trump, suggested the standoff over stimulus and other measures, including Trump’s veto last week of a bipartisan defense bill, was done “just to create chaos and show power and be upset because you lost the election.”

Trump’s criticism of the legislation took lawmakers by surprise since it was developed with members of his administration – notably, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Immense’ suffering

“Everybody assumed, everybody, that Mnuchin was representing the White House,” Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent of Vermont, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Sanders, a leading progressive, has advocated $2,000 checks to help Americans cope with “economic crisis,” but he too urged Trump not to hold up the current bill, which was passed by sizable bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate.

“What we need to do is have the president sign that bill today, right now. Or else the suffering of this country will be immense,” Sanders said.

Trump hasn’t said explicitly that he’ll veto the measure, which Toomey said he viewed as a hopeful sign. The legislation has been delivered to Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Trump golfed on Sunday for the third time in four days.

The stimulus bill is in addition to a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government, which without Trump’s signature is at risk of closing down early this week.

Democrats plan to vote Monday on new legislation to codify the $2,000 payments for most American adults and children, which is opposed by many Republicans. They also could vote on another stopgap measure to fund the government past the current spending deadline of midnight that day.