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President Trump throws relief bill in doubt by asking Congress to amend it

Dec 22, 2020, 7:31 PM | Updated: Dec 23, 2020, 8:27 am
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(CNN) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he is asking for changes to the coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress, leaving the future of the $900 billion stimulus in doubt.

“I’m asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 per couple,” President Trump said in a video released on Twitter. “I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items in this legislation or to send me a suitable bill.”

The extraordinary message came after he largely left negotiations over the measure to lawmakers and his Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. President Trump did not explicitly threaten to veto the bill, but said he was dissatisfied with its final state.

The president’s position could threaten to torpedo the carefully drafted bill, which his own administration helped negotiate — a move that could lead to a government shutdown and send the economy into a tailspin if he carried through with a veto.

Still, President Trump’s message appeared to be greeted favorably by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who tweeted: “Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks.”

“At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent,” she said. “Let’s do it!”

President Trump’s statement was filmed by the White House and was not open to the press. Reporters did not have a chance to ask the president questions. It’s unclear when the message was recorded.

The resident has in the past said he would sign the bill, and earlier Tuesday the White House publicly defended the bill. But many of his allies have spoken out against the agreement passed.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Following months of grueling negotiations, Congress had voted Monday evening to approve the far-reaching $900 billion Covid relief package aimed at delivering layers of financial support to Americans affected by the pandemic.

The legislation includes direct payments of up to $600 per adult, enhanced jobless benefits of $300 per week, roughly $284 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans, $25 billion in rental assistance, an extension of the eviction moratorium and $82 billion for schools and colleges.

“We can finally report what our nation has needed to hear for a very long time: More help is on the way,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday night in announcing the deal.

The deal was reached only after both parties relinquished some of their key demands.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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President Trump throws relief bill in doubt by asking Congress to amend it