DCR Economics & Policy: Trump signs stimulus and government spending bill into law after Christmas day.☕☕☕

Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves the stimulus package and Trump.

On Sunday Trump unexpectedly signed the stimulus bill into law, releasing $900 billion in emergency relief funds into the economy and stopping a Tuesday government shutdown.

Trump signed the bill while vacationing in Florida and on a weekend. He had allowed unemployment benefits for 14 million Americans to expire. Trump had demanded changes to the stimulus bill but on Sunday moved to release the stimulus funds after all. He had demanded changes to the stimulus and spending package for a week, suggesting he would refuse to sign it until these demands were met. This continued defiance caused lawmakers from both parties to panic over the weekend, worried about the implications of a government shutdown during a pandemic. It was unclear what prompted him to change his mind late Sunday, but he was under tremendous pressure from Republicans to acquiesce.

After signing the law, Trump released a list of false claims and grievances. He said he would be sending a “redlined” version of the bill back to Congress “insisting that those funds be removed from the bill.”

After Trump signed the bill into law, Democrats attacked him and said his decision to drag the process out for days was harmful to many Americans.

Before signing the bill, Trump hinted that there had been a development. He tweeted that there was “Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow!”

Congress passed the bipartisan bill last week, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin praised it, something congressional leaders in both parties interpreted as a sign that Trump was supportive. But the president released a video on Tuesday demanding changes. He said, among other things, that the bill should have authorized stimulus checks of $2,000 per person instead of the $600 payments. Trump also wanted spending cuts to be included in the package, a concern he didn’t raise until after the bill was signed.

Mnuchin had said the stimulus checks could be sent as soon as this coming week. The $600 payments had been Mnuchin’s idea to begin with. It’s unclear whether the roughly week long delay would push back the issuance of the payments, or if they could still go out this week.

If the bill wasn’t signed into law by Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of federal employees would have been sent home without pay, and even the many federal employees who would have continued to work because they are deemed “essential,” such as members of the military, would not have been paid until a new funding bill is authorized. In addition to a government shutdown on Tuesday, eviction protections for millions of Americans would have lapsed later this week; more than 14 million people would be losing unemployment benefits; and no stimulus checks would be issued. Failing to sign the bill into law would also freeze new money for vaccine distribution, small business aid, the ailing airline industry and school aid.

On Sunday, lawmakers expressed a mix of frustration and fury that Trump had not signaled publicly what he planned to do.

The consequences of inaction would have been immense.

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