- Jobless benefits for millions of Americans expired Saturday.
- A $2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending package approved by Republicans and Democrats would extend special unemployment benefits, but President Donald Trump has so far refused to sign it.
- Trump is unhappy with the massive bill, in part because he says that one-off $600 stimulus checks for struggling Americans are not large enough. He wants $2,000 checks.
- Trump has not vetoed the bill and could still sign it in the coming days. The package contains $1.4 trillion for normal government spending — without it, a government shutdown looms.
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Jobless benefits for millions of Americans expired on Saturday, after President Donald Trump refused to sign into law a $2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending package.
Trump is unhappy with the massive bill, in part because he says that one-off $600 stimulus checks for struggling Americans are not large enough. He has demanded the amount be raised to $2,000 — but House Republicans on Thursday blocked a Democratic attempt to increase the size of the checks.
Trump stunned Republicans and Democrats when he said Wednesday that he was unhappy with the massive bill, which provides $892 billion in badly needed coronavirus relief, including extending special unemployment benefits expiring on Saturday, and $1.4 trillion for normal government spending.
Without Trump's signature, about 14 million people could lose those extra benefits, according to Labor Department data. A partial government shutdown will begin on Tuesday unless Congress can agree a stop-gap government funding bill before then.
The bill was flown to Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort on Thursday. While the outgoing president's strategy for the bill remains unclear, he has not vetoed it and could still sign it in the coming days.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to hold a vote to approve $2,000 stimulus checks on Monday.
After months of wrangling, Republicans and Democrats agreed to the $2.3 trillion package on December 20, with the support of the White House. Trump, who hands over power to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden on January 20, did not object to terms of the deal before Congress voted it through on Monday night.
But since then, he has complained that the bill gives too much money to special interests, cultural projects, and foreign aid. He has also said its one-time $600 stimulus checks to millions of struggling Americans were too small — a view supported by Democrats, who have long-argued for a larger stimulus package.
"Why would politicians not want to give people $2,000, rather than only $600?…Give our people the money!" the billionaire president tweeted on Christmas Day, much of which he spent golfing.
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Many economists agree the bill's aid is too low but say the immediate support is still welcome and necessary.
A source familiar with the situation told Reuters that Trump's objection to the bill caught many White House officials by surprise.
On Saturday, he was scheduled to remain in Mar-a-Lago. Biden, whose November 3 electoral victory Trump refuses to acknowledge, is spending the holiday in his home state of Delaware and had no public events scheduled for Saturday.
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