Millions of Americans saw their jobless benefits expire on Saturday after President Donald Trump refused to sign into law a $2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending package, protesting that it did not do enough to help everyday people.
Trump stunned Republicans and Democrats alike when he said that he was unhappy with the massive bill, which provides $892 billion in badly needed coronavirus relief, including extending special unemployment benefits expiring on Dec. 26, 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 on a stop-gap government funding bill before then.
After months of wrangling, Republicans and Democrats agreed to the package last weekend, with the support of the White House. Trump 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, while its one-time $600 stimulus checks to millions of struggling Americans were too small. He has demanded that be raised to $2,000.
“Why would politicians not want to give people $2,000, rather than only $600?…Give our people the money!” the president tweeted on Friday.
Many economists agree the bill’s aid is too low but say the immediate support is still welcome and necessary.
While the outgoing president’s strategy for the bill remains unclear, he has not vetoed it and could still sign it in coming days.