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For Christmas this year, Washington is giving the country more pain.
Perhaps it is fitting that in the worst year in memory, the surprise prospect of a government shutdown and delayed economic relief hangs over holiday celebrations already made less merry by the pandemic.
Maybe nothing better could be expected in a year that saw denial and delusion, led by President Donald Trump, presage a wave of illness and death coupled with evictions, bankruptcies, hunger and ruined livelihoods.
But after enduring so much, Americans can hardly be blamed for feeling outrage at yet another indignity at the hand of their leaders.
The joint Covid relief package and government funding bill that Trump has lambasted arrived at Mar-a-Lago Friday after being flown down a day earlier. Yet Trump, who arrived at his namesake golf course just before 10 a.m. local time, has offered no clues as to whether he'll sign it.
As Trump plays rounds of golf in Florida and pardons corrupt loyalists, and as congressional leaders line up for the first doses of a coronavirus vaccine, there is scant evidence the pressing needs of the country will be addressed in anything resembling a timely fashion.
President Trump doubled down on his demand Friday for increased coronavirus-related stimulus checks to working-class Americans.
Trump again tweeted his demand for $2,000 checks rather than the $600 proposed in the mammoth spending bill approved by Congress earlier this week.
"Made many calls and had meetings at Trump International in Palm Beach, Florida. Why would politicians not want to give people $2000, rather than only $600? It wasn’t their fault, it was China," the president wrote on Twitter. "Give our people the money!"
Trump and other critics of the bill have deemed the bill 5,500 pages of pork-barrel spending rather than an earnest attempt to help struggling Americans beset by gubernatorial economic lockdowns and the overall drop in commerce ushered in by the pandemic.
President Donald Trump attacked Sen. Mitch McConnell and Twitter as he continued to rail against the results of the 2020 presidential election in tweets on Christmas Eve. Among retweeting Team Trump videos and claims of election fraud that were quickly flagged by Twitter, the president also defended one of his Fox News allies.
Trump spent Thursday golfing after travelling to Florida for the holidays, shortly after threatening to tank the much-delayed bipartisan COVID-19 relief deal passed through Congress on Monday.
Following months of negotiations, lawmakers compromised on a deal worth $900 billion that included $600 stimulus checks—but the president surprised both Republicans and Democrats when he suddenly demanded the bill be amended to include $2,000 stimulus checks in a video posted on Tuesday.
The proposal was blocked by House Republicans after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it forward in a session on Christmas Eve.
President Trump repeated his calls for Congress to approve $2,000 coronavirus stimulus checks in a Christmas Day tweet, announcing he has been taking meetings over the holiday to secure a deal with lawmakers.
“Made many calls and had meetings at Trump International in Palm Beach, Florida. Why would politicians not want to give people $2000, rather than only $600? It wasn’t their fault, it was China. Give our people the money!” Trump wrote on Friday afternoon.
The president, who is spending the holidays at his Mar-a-Lago resort, refused to sign a $2.3 trillion COVID-19 relief and government funding bill before leaving Washington on Wednesday.
After months of inaction, Congress passed a $900 billion aid package but Trump announced at the eleventh hour that he was blocking it, calling it a “disgrace.”
He called for Congress to amend the legislation and increase stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000, while also cutting down on foreign aid and other stuffing in the regular appropriations bill.