US lawmakers block Trump's changes to coronavirus aid package

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of America Published: Dec 25, 2020, 07:59 AM(IST)

File photo Photograph:( Reuters )

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The 5,500-page bill took months to negotiate and the White House had said earlier that Trump would sign it into law.

US lawmakers have rejected President Donald Trump's demand for extensive changes and leaving benefits for millions of Americans at risk in the $2.3 trillion coronavirus aid and government spending package.

The 5,500-page bill took months to negotiate and the White House had said earlier that Trump would sign it into law. There was a flurry of acitivity on the floor of the House, impeding the passage of the bill and bringing it to a stalemate.

Democrats in the House of Representatives sought to increase direct payments to Americans included in the bill from $600 to $2,000 per person as part of a coronavirus economic relief initiative, acting on one of Trump's requests. Trump's fellow Republicans, who oppose the higher amount, blocked that effort.

Republicans sought to change the amount of foreign aid included in the package, seeking to address another one of Trump's complaints. Democrats blocked that request.

Trump in a surprise move on Tuesday pressed Congress to dramatically alter the coronavirus and government-spending package, which passed by wide, bipartisan margins on Monday.

In response, a bipartisan group of Senate and House members on Thursday urged Trump to back down and sign the legislation. The lawmakers were instrumental in getting negotiations moving forward a few weeks ago when they proposed $908 billion in coronavirus aid, slightly above the level Congress finally settled upon.

Eleven senators, including Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Mitt Romney of Utah, signed the statement, along with two House members, the Republican and Democratic co-chairs of the "Problem Solvers Caucus." 

West Virginia and Utah were among states that voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the November election.

US President-elect Joe Biden has said a larger coronavirus aid package would be necessary to help fight the pandemic and assist those whose lives have been upended by it. His transition team declined to comment on Thursday's developments.

Trump had earlier sparked a record 35-day government shutdown two years ago when he rejected a federal spending bill over what he said was insufficient funding for building a US-Mexico border wall.

The current standoff comes as the US economy is cooling in the face of the raging pandemic.

(with inputs from agencies)

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