Dec. 27 (UPI) — Lawmakers on Sunday urged President Donald Trump to sign a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill as unemployment benefits expired over the weekend and the government faces a shutdown on Monday.
Members of Congress urged the president to sign the relief bill and a $1.4 trillion omnibus bill to fund the government through September after Trump shocked lawmakers by panning the relief bill and calling for direct payments to Americans to be increased from $600 to $2,000.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., one of the most adamant voices supporting increased payments for Americans called Trump’s last-minute refusal to sign the bill “unbelievably cruel” calling on the president to sign the bill that would restore unemployment benefits and moratoriums on evictions and allow Congress to approve $2,000 payments later.
“Sign the bill Mr. President and then immediately, Monday, Tuesday we can pass a $2,000 direct payment to the working families of this country,” Sanders told ABC News’ This Week, adding that “the suffering of this country will be immense” if Trump does not sign the bill.
The stimulus and funding bills are tied together and while Trump has not threatened to veto the measures, the government will shut down at midnight on Monday if the bill is not signed.
In addition, if Trump does not sign the stimulus legislation before a new Congress arrives on Jan. 3, the bill will expire, forcing lawmakers to negotiate another package.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., called on Trump to accept that “you don’t get everything you want, even if you’re the president of the United States,” while also calling for a separate negotiation on $2,000 payments.
“I understand he wants to be remembered for advocating for big checks, but the danger is he’ll be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior if he allows this to expire,” Toomey said of Trump on Fox News Sunday.
Toomey, however, has expressed that Republicans were unlikely to approve the increased payments, after blocking an effort by House Democrats to amend the stimulus bill on Thursday.
“Why should we be sending $2,000 to people with a six-figure income who’ve had no suspension, no reduction of their income at all?” Toomey said. “This money isn’t sitting on a shelf. We’re going to print it or we’re going to borrow it, and I think the aid should be much, much more targeted. It should be targeted to people who’ve actually lost their job. Small businesses that are actually in danger of going under. Those are very real categories. The numbers are significant.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she would seek a roll-call vote on the proposal to increase the payments Monday.
On Saturday,, Trump posted on Twitter to “increase payments to the people, get rid of the ‘pork,” and included his video message from Tuesday expressing his dissatisfaction with the legislation.
The bills have been sent to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., where the president arrived on Wednesday.