As if there wasn’t enough drama this year, President Donald Trump blew up the chances for the coronavirus COVID-19 stimulus package, debated and negotiated for months by Congress and delivered to the president’s desk on Tuesday, announcing that he would not sign it. Then he got on Air Force One and flew to Florida for the holidays, leaving the urgently-needed $900 Billion relief package in chaos as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge across the U.S.
At the same time, another critical budget bill tied to the COVID relief bill was also put into limbo; the U.S. 2021 federal budget bill. The total of $2.3 trillion in spending, left unsigned, means that the country could face the shutdown of major portions of our government, with the impacts of a surging pandemic, an un-funded COVID-19 vaccine rollout and a presidential transition all occurring at once.
His reason, said Trump; the $600 COVID-19 stimulus check should be at least $2,000 per person. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly responded, announcing that Democrats were ready to ‘go for it,” setting up a vote today in the House to amend the bill.
This put House Republicans, who had initially rejected the idea of any stimulus checks at all, in a tough spot.
This morning, U.S. lawmakers successfully blocked attempts to alter the COVID package and government spending package, rejecting President Donald Trump’s demand for extensive changes. This leaves benefits for millions of Americans at risk.
For the past seven weeks, the president has been completely absent from the intense negotiations, sending his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in his place.
Continuing what amounts to a temper tantrum, Trump also announced he wouldn’t sign the 2021 Defense Budget bill, which has been passed annually, without incident by the United States Congress for the past 60 years. It leaves the U.S. military unfunded at a time that the nation is enduring a massive cyberattack on our government agencies, most likely from sources connected with Russian intelligence sources. The bill contains billions in defense spending to harden U.S. cybersecurity against the kind of attack that is occurring against us at this very minute.
The question could be asked: why is Trump doing this? Could it truly be a temper tantrum — or something else?