Millions of Americans lose jobless benefits as Trump refuses to sign aid bill

Reuters PALM BEACH | Updated on December 26, 2020

US President Donald Trump   -  REUTERS

Millions ofAmericans saw their jobless benefits expire on Saturday afterU.S. President Donald Trump refused to sign into law a $2.3trillion pandemic aid and spending package, protesting that itdid not do enough to help everyday people.

Trump stunned Republicans and Democrats alike when he saidthis week he was unhappy with the massive bill, which provides$892 billion in badly needed coronavirus relief, includingextending special unemployment benefits expiring on Dec. 26, and$1.4 trillion for normal government spending.

Without Trump's signature, about 14 million people couldlose those extra benefits, according to Labor Department data. Apartial government shutdown will begin on Tuesday unlessCongress can agree a stop-gap government funding bill beforethen.

After months of wrangling, Republicans and Democrats agreedto the package last weekend, with the support of the WhiteHouse. Trump, who hands over power to Democratic President-electJoe Biden on Jan. 20, did not object to terms of the deal beforeCongress voted it through on Monday night.

But since then he has complained that the bill gives toomuch money to special interests, cultural projects and foreignaid, while its one-time $600 stimulus checks to millions ofstruggling Americans were too small. He has demanded that beraised to $2,000.

"Why would politicians not want to give people $2,000,rather than only $600?...Give our people the money!" thebillionaire president tweeted on Christmas Day, much of which hespent golfing at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

Many economists agree the bill's aid is too low but say theimmediate support is still welcome and necessary.

A source familiar with the situation said Trump's objectionto the bill caught many White House officials by surprise. Whilethe outgoing president's strategy for the bill remains unclear,he has not vetoed it and could still sign it in coming days.

On Saturday, he was scheduled to remain in Mar-a-Lago, wherethe bill has been sent and awaits his decision. Biden, whoseNov. 3 electoral victory Trump refuses to acknowledge, isspending the holiday in his home state of Delaware and had nopublic events scheduled for Saturday

Published on December 26, 2020

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