In retrospect, this probably seemed inevitable, didn’t it? Despite all of the bluster, the President decided to sign the bipartisan COVID relief and massively pork-laden spending bill on Sunday evening. He had some attachments to the decision that he sent along to Congress as a warning, but the doom and gloom associated with the failure of the bill has largely been averted. (Axios)
President Trump signed a bill to extend unemployment benefits and avert a government shutdown, Republican sources tell Axios.
What to watch: While Trump signed the current bill providing for $600 checks for most Americans hours before a midnight government shutdown deadline, he will continue his push to bring that amount to $2,000, according to two sources familiar with the planning.
Why it matters: Trump’s delay in signing the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill and $1.4 trillion government funding measure caused unemployment benefits for millions of Americans to lapse overnight.
So why the change of heart? There’s a good chance that the pressure of all the negative fallout from the collapse of unemployment benefits to millions of people was more damage than the President wanted to endure. Yes, the bill is burdened with an obscene amount of pork. And he wanted larger direct payments to taxpayers. But the old rule about half a loaf being better than nothing is still in play.
Did Trump “lose” in this standoff, even taking the rules of The Art of the Deal into play? In some sense, that’s a fair description. The President drew a line in the sand and he wound up backing down before the government entirely shut down But at the same time, he signaled that he had additional negotiating points that he wanted to press forward with. One reporter tweeted out the signing statement.
STATEMENT FROM PRESIDENT: " I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed. I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item." pic.twitter.com/yjK3K3MJwV
— Samantha-Jo Roth (@SamanthaJoRoth) December 28, 2020
The President is referencing the Impoundment Control Act of 1974 while signing the bill. He’s laying out a list of demands that he wants to see Congress invoke to revise and amend the bills he is signing. Whether or not that actually takes place is a question for the scholars to debate. Among his chief demands is a renewed call for the individual payments to taxpayers to be increased to $2,000 and a removal of wasteful spending.
But President Trump made clear that the primary objectives in signing the bill were to restore unemployment benefits to those affected by the pandemic shutdowns, slow down evictions, provide rental assistance, and fund vaccine distribution.
So did the President “cave” on this? His opponents will say yes. His supporters will point out that the fight continues and he’s still trying to beat this bill into something palatable. But for now, at least, a shutdown has been averted and some of the more critical issues being addressed by a significant, bipartisan majority in both chambers of Congress appear to be moving forward.