Biden warns of 'devastating consequences' of Trump block on pandemic relief » EntornoInteligente

Biden warns of ‘devastating consequences’ of Trump block on pandemic relief

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Entornointeligente.com / Biden spoke out as millions of Americans saw their jobless benefits expire after Trump threw a long-awaited pandemic aid package into doubt, demanding lawmakers more than triple the $600 direct payments to US taxpayers. US President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, US, December 22, 2020. (Reuters) US President-elect Joe Biden has warned of “devastating consequences” if President Donald Trump continues to delay signing a Covid-19 economic relief bill passed by Congress.

Biden spoke out as millions of Americans saw their jobless benefits expire after Trump threw a long-awaited pandemic aid package into doubt, demanding lawmakers more than triple the $600 direct payments to US taxpayers.

“This abdication of responsibility has devastating consequences. Today, about 10 million Americans will lose unemployment insurance benefits,” Biden said in a statement.

The stimulus measure is wrapped up with a $1.4 trillion funding bill, without which the government will be forced to shut down at midnight Monday.

“In just a few days, government funding will expire, putting vital services and paychecks for military personnel at risk,” Biden added.

“In less than a week, a moratorium on evictions expires, putting millions at risk of being forced from their homes over the holidays.”

In a video late on Tuesday, Trump, who is due to leave office in less than a month, called the $900 million bill “a disgrace” despite it being passed on Monday with a large bipartisan majority after months of negotiation.

The legislation was designed to throw a lifeline to businesses and people struggling to keep their heads above water.

But in a pre-recorded statement made in the White House, Trump said he would refuse to accept the bill without changes increasing the checks to taxpayers to $2,000.

READ MORE:  Trump refuses to sign Covid-19 bill, millions without jobless benefits

'Dark winter' 

“I simply want to get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill,” Trump reiterated on Saturday on Twitter.

I simply want to get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill. Also, stop the billions of dollars in “pork”.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2020 The move puts the Republican president at odds with his party's Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, who have ruled out any larger stimulus measures.

Republicans on Thursday blocked a Democratic effort to increase the payments that would go to all taxpayers earning up to $75,000 a year, with smaller amounts for those making up to $99,000.

“Delay means more small businesses won't survive this dark winter because they lack access to the lifeline they need, and Americans face further delays in getting the direct payments they deserve as quickly as possible to help deal with the economic devastation caused by Covid-19,” Biden added.

It is almost unprecedented for a president to veto a bill that received such overwhelming bipartisan support.

But his veto of a defence funding bill on Wednesday, the NDAA, ensures lawmakers will return to Washington after Christmas to override the action.

And while Congress also would almost certainly override a presidential veto of the funding package, Trump could pull off a “pocket veto,” by simply refusing to sign the bill until the current Congressional term ends and the new session is installed January 3.

Covid-19 cases have spiked and the US death toll stands at more than 330,000. Economic recovery has faltered despite the roll-out of vaccinations offering hope for an end to the outbreak in 2021.

READ MORE: Politics blunts Christmas as US govt shutdown nears, Covid-19 aid uncertain

Unemployment benefits for millions in limbo

Unemployment benefits for millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet were set to lapse at midnight Saturday night unless Trump signed an end-of-year Covid relief and spending bill that had been considered a done deal before his sudden objections.

“It’s a chess game and we are pawns,” said Lanetris Haines, a self-employed single mother of three in South Bend, Indiana, who stands to lose her $129 weekly jobless benefit unless Trump signs the package into law or succeeds in his improbable quest for changes.

“I’ve been talking to people who are scared they’re going to be kicked out from their homes, during the Christmas holidays, and still might be if we don’t sign this bill,’’ said Representative Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat.

Lauren Bauer, a fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, has calculated that 11 million people would lose aid from the programs immediately without additional relief; millions more would exhaust other unemployment benefits within weeks.

Andrew Stettner, an unemployment insurance expert and senior fellow at the Century Foundation think tank, said the number may be closer to 14 million because joblessness has spiked since Thanksgiving.

“All these folks and their families will suffer if Trump doesn’t sign the damn bill,’’ Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the liberal Economic Policy Institute, tweeted on Wednesday. However, she said the unemployed could potentially receive payments retroactively if the bill is eventually signed.

How and when people are affected by the lapse depends on the state they live in, the program they are relying on and when they applied for benefits. In some states, people on regular unemployment insurance could continue to receive payments under a program that extends benefits when the jobless rate surpasses a certain threshold, Stettner said.

About 9.5 million people, however, rely on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that expires altogether Saturday. That program made unemployment insurance available to freelancers, gig workers and others who are normally not eligible.

After receiving their last checks, those recipients will not be able to file for more aid starting Monday, Stettner said.

READ MORE: GOP blocks $2,000 checks as US President Trump leaves Covid aid in chaos

More hardship and uncertainty

While payments could be received retroactively, any gap means more hardship and uncertainty for Americans who have already grappled with bureaucratic delays, often depleting much of their savings to stay afloat while waiting for payments to kick in.

They are people like Earl McCarthy, a father of four who lives in South Fulton, Georgia, and has been relying on unemployment since losing his job as a sales representative for a luxury senior living community.

He said he will be left with no income by the second week of January if Trump fails to sign the bill.

McCarthy said he already burned through much of his savings as he waited five months to begin receiving his unemployment benefits. After leaving weekly messages with the unemployment agency, McCarthy reached out to the South Fulton mayor’s office, then to his state legislative representative to ask for help. He finally started getting payments in November.

“The entire experience was horrifying,” said McCarthy, who is receiving about $350 a week in unemployment insurance.

“For me, I shudder to think if I had not saved anything or had an emergency fund through those five months, where would we have been?” he said. “It’s going to be difficult if the president doesn’t sign this bill.”

READ MORE: US Congress reaches deal on $900B Covid relief bill

$300 federal supplement to payments 

The bill awaiting Trump's signature would also activate a weekly $300 federal supplement to unemployment payments.

Sharon Shelton Corpening had been hoping the extra help would allow her 83-year-old mother, with whom she lives, to stop eating into her social security payments to make their $1,138 rent.

Corpening, who lives in the Atlanta area, had launched a freelance content strategy business that was just taking off before the pandemic hit, prompting several of her contracts to fall through.

She is receiving about $125 a week under the pandemic unemployment program and says she will be unable to pay her bills in about a month. This, despite her temporary work for the US census and as an elections poll worker.

“We on the brink,” said Corpening. “One more month, if that. Then, I run out of everything.”

Trump still refusing his loss to Biden

Trump, meanwhile, has been spending his final days in office golfing and angrily tweeting as he refuses to accept his loss to Biden in the November 3 election. On Saturday, he again lashed out at members of his own party for failing to join his quest to try to overturn the results of the election with baseless claims of mass voter fraud that have been repeatedly rejected by the courts.

“If a Democrat Presidential Candidate had an Election Rigged & Stolen, with proof of such acts at a level never seen before, the Democrat Senators would consider it an act of war, and fight to the death,” he railed. He said Senate Majority Leader McConnell and his Republicans “just want to let it pass. NO FIGHT!”

Trump also lashed out at the Supreme Court, the Justice Department and the FBI as he seemed to encourage his supporters to gather in Washington on January 6, the day Congress tallies the Electoral College vote — even though a similar event last month devolved into violence, with multiple people being stabbed in the capital's streets.

In addition to freezing unemployment benefits, Trump's lack of action on the bill would lead to the expiration of eviction protections and put on hold a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants and theatres, along with money to help schools and vaccine distribution.

READ MORE: Republican leader of US Senate congratulates Joe Biden on election win

Source: TRTWorld and agencies
LINK ORIGINAL: Trtworld

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