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Trump signs, sends redlined version of Covid catchall bill back to Congress to remove waste. What now?

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In order to avert a government shutdown during the pandemic, President Donald Trump signed the $1.4 trillion catchall spending bill Sunday night, which included the additional $900 billion COVID-19 relief measure.

The president has called the 5,500 page monstrosity of a bill a “disgrace,” saying it “has almost nothing to do with COVID,” highlighting “wasteful” spending on foreign aid and other things. He has insisted the $600 stimulus checks Congress included in the package were “ridiculously low,” calling for $2,000 per individual and $4,000 per couple.

Trump continued to denounce the “pork” in the bill over the weekend, reiterating his call for boosting the stimulus checks

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tried to pass a unanimous consent bill last week for the $2,000 checks, but Republicans objected. The speaker is expected to bring a bill to the floor on Monday, and Fox News reported that House Democrats will handle it as a “suspension” measure, subjecting it to a two-thirds vote for passage — essentially daring Republicans to vote no.

Considering that Pelosi has gotten away with playing politics with coronavirus relief from the very beginning of the pandemic, this is par for the course.

In a series of tweets, White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere detailed other expectations from the president.

“I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed,” Trump said in a release,  before signing the bill. “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.

He added, “I am signing this bill to restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP, return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more.”

In demanding the rescissions, Trump cited the Impoundment Control Act of 1974. which provides “whenever the President determines that all or part of any budget authority will not be required to carry out the full objectives or scope of programs for which it is provided, or that such budget authority should be rescinded for fiscal policy or other reasons (including termination of authorized projects or activities for which budget authority has been provided), the President shall transmit to both Houses of Congress a special message” describing the amount to be reserved, the relevant accounts, the reasons for the rescission, and the economic effects of the rescission. 2 U.S.C. § 683.

The president said the House and Senate “have agreed to focus strongly on the very substantial voter fraud which took place in the November 3 Presidential election,” and that the Senate “will start the process for a vote that increases checks to $2,000, repeals Section 230, and starts an investigation into voter fraud.”

“Much more money is coming. I will never give up my fight for the American people!” President Trump concluded.

The House is scheduled to meet Monday afternoon, but the Senate isn’t expected to be back until Tuesday. And while the House is largely expected to pass the $2,000 direct payments, it remains to be seen how the GOP-controlled Senate responds.

Tom Tillison

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