Donald Trump signs huge COVID-19 relief and spending bill
In a major development, US President Donald Trump has signed the massive $2.3 trillion COVID-19 relief and government funding bill after days of delay. Trump’s signing of the $900 billion Coronavirus relief package will help in providing billions of dollars of aid to millions of people in need. At the same time, it has prevented a government showdown that was scheduled to begin on Tuesday after spending ran out on Saturday.
While both houses of Congress had already passed the legislation on December 21, Trump refused to sign the bill, putting the lives of millions of Americans at risk. After months of negotiations, the Senate and the House passed both the COVID-19 aid and spending bill by huge margins. However, Trump blasted the legislation, called for a revision to include scaled-back spending and larger relief checks.
As per reports, Republicans urged the President to give his consent to the bill in a bid to avoid a mid-pandemic government shutdown and provide the much-needed economic relief to Americans in need.The bill contains a number of benefits for millions of pandemic-affected Americans, including direct payments to qualifying citizens, funds for small-businesses, relief payments to families and money for vaccine distribution.
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Announcing that development on Sunday night, Trump said that it was his “responsibility to protect the people of the country from the economic devastation and hardship” of the COVID-19 pandemic. He further added that he is signing the bill to restore unemployment benefits, provide rental assistance, stop evictions, add more money for vaccine distribution among other things, concluding that “much more money is coming”.
Welcoming Trump’s decision, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the President to make efforts to implement the relief measures. Washington officials also appear to be relieved as Trump backed the legislation after unprecedently turning it down.However, it is important to note that his delay in signing the bill has cost a week of unemployment benefits to millions of people after at least two federal unemployment benefit prgrams expired on Saturday.
The relief bill has come at a time when a new COVID-19 strain is threatening the ongoing efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 cases in the United States. Around 9.5 million Americans had been counting on the government’s pandemic-relief unemployment program that lapsed on Saturday. From gig workers to freelancers, a large number of people had received benefits from the program. Now that Trump has signed the bill, these programs are expected to be restarted.