US President Donald Trump, after much delay, signed the $2.3 trillion dollar coronavirus relief and government funding bill into law Sunday night. This was done just in time to avoid a government shutdown before the Monday night deadline to sign to the bill. This bill includes the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package and $1.4 trillion government spending fund.
The COVID-19 relief package extends unemployment benefits for millions of jobless freelance workers and independent contractors, as well as the long-term unemployed. An estimated 12 million people in the US, currently covered by two key COVID-19 unemployment programs, will now have their benefits extended for another 11 weeks. Additionally, all those collecting unemployment payments will receive a $300 weekly federal boost until mid-March.
The COVID-19 stimulus package includes $600 cheques, which are still contested within the House of Representatives. Trump had previously called the amount a “disgrace” and pushed for the stimulus cheques to be raised to $2000 per person. The House will vote on this increase today.
Although Trump signed the bill to avert a governmental crisis, he insists on increasing the individual cheques and cutting down on foreign aid.
In a statement on Sunday, Trump said: “I will sign the omnibus and COVID-19 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, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill.”
The foreign aid that Trump wants removed from the stimulus bill includes $25 million worth of aid for Pakistan, to be channelled into “democracy and gender programmes.”