PALM BEACH (AP) – After launching a grenade that threatens to blow up a huge COVID government relief and funding bill and force a government shutdown amid a pandemic, President Donald Trump spent his Christmas Eve playing golf in Florida.
Failure to agree to the bill could deny checks to millions of Americans on the brink.
Trump had no events on his public schedule on the first day of his winter vacation on Thursday, but he traveled to his golf club in Palm Beach, where he was spotted by CNN cameras on the links. Reporters did not receive details of his schedule for the day, but said that, “As the holiday season approaches, President Trump will continue to work tirelessly for the American people. Its schedule includes many meetings and calls. “
Trump’s departure came when Washington was still recovering from its surprise, the last-minute requirement that a year-end spending bill that Congress leaders spent months negotiating would provide most Americans with $ relief checks 2,000 COVID – far more than members of their own $ 600 party had agreed to. The idea was quickly rejected by House Republicans during a rare Christmas Eve session, leaving the proposal in limbo.
The bipartisan deal was considered a closed deal and gained broad approval in the House and Senate this week after the White House assured Republican leaders that Trump supported him. If Trump refuses to sign the deal, which is linked to a $ 1.4 trillion government funding bill, he will force a federal government shutdown, delay aid checks and suspend unemployment benefits. and eviction protections in the middle of the most terrible stretch of the pandemic.
It was a final raised middle finger for Republicans from a president who is furious at his November 3 defeat to President-elect Joe Biden and trying to come up with increasingly outrageous schemes to try to overturn the results of a Democratic election. He was instigated by allies like his lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who accompanied the president to Florida on board Air Force One.
Trump’s wrath has focused, in part, on Republicans in Congress who he believes have not sufficiently supported his quest to delegitimize Biden’s victory by making baseless claims of mass electoral fraud before Congress meets to count the votes of the Electoral College on January 6.
In Florida, Trump continued to criticize the results, complaining to members that he had been deprived of the election and expressing frustrations about the year’s spending bill.
“At a meeting in Florida today, everyone was asking why Republicans are not up for war and fighting over Democrats stealing the rigged presidential election?” Trump tweeted after returning to his private Mar-a-Lago “Especially in the Senate, they said, where you helped 8 senators win the race.”
“I will never forget!” he wrote in another,
The statements underscored concerns that Trump is blowing up negotiations to punish lawmakers for what he sees as insufficient support loyalty.
Trump has provided no credible evidence to support his electoral claims, which have also been refuted by a long list of officials, from ex-attorney general William Barr to Republican governors, judges and local electoral administrators.
Meanwhile, the nation continues to stagger as the coronavirus spreads, with record infections and hospitalizations and more than 327,000 dead. And millions now face the prospect of spending their holidays alone or struggling to survive without adequate income, food or shelter, thanks to the pandemic’s economic toll.
To mark the holiday, President and First Lady Melania Trump tweeted a pre-recorded video message in which they wished the Americans a Merry Christmas and thanked the first respondents and the military.
“As you know, this Christmas is different from previous years,” said Ms. Trump, who focused on the acts of “kindness and courage” that the pandemic had inspired.
Trump welcomed the doses of the vaccine being delivered and thanked those responsible. “It’s a real Christmas miracle,” he said.
Meanwhile, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are trying to save the year-end legislation to try to avoid a closure. Democrats will call House legislators back to Washington for a vote on Monday over Trump’s $ 2,000 proposal, although he would likely die in the Republican-controlled Senate. They are also considering a vote on Monday in a palliative measure to at least avoid a federal strike and keep the government running until Biden is inaugurated on January 20.
In addition to the relief checks, the approved COVID bill would establish a temporary supplementary unemployment benefit of $ 300 a week, provide a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants and theaters and money for schools, and provide money for healthcare providers and to assist in the distribution of the COVID vaccine.