Washington – President Donald Trump on Tuesday rejected a massive Covid economic relief package passed by Congress, branding it “a disgrace” in an act of political brinkmanship less than a month before he must leave office and when millions of Americans are suffering fallout from the pandemic.
Trump dropped the bombshell in a pre-recorded statement made in the White House and sent out on Twitter.
It came just a day after his Republicans and the Democrats finally agreed overwhelmingly to a $900 billion bill meant to throw a lifeline to businesses and people struggling to keep heads above water.
In his address, Trump said he would refuse to accept the bill as it is and demanded changes, notably a big increase in the proposed $600 (about R8 800) direct payments to less well-off Americans.
“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2 000, or $4 000 for a couple,” said Trump, referring to relief checks.
Trump also castigated measures added onto the bill during complex negotiations that would provide funding for projects benefiting US partners abroad and other non-Covid related items like the environment.
“It really is a disgrace,” he said. “I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation, and just send me a suitable bill.”