Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) on Sunday said President Donald Trump would leave behind a disastrous legacy if he doesn’t sign the latest COVID-19 relief bill and allows pandemic aid to expire at the end of the month.
After a months-long impasse, Republicans and Democrats finally reached agreement on a $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus package. The proposed legislation is tied to a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill that would fund the government through September.
But Trump, whose administration helped negotiate the relief bill, stunned Republicans last week by demanding lawmakers boost relief payments outlined in the bill from $600 to $2,000 per eligible American. Democrats expressed support for the president’s request for the more robust payments ― relief some Democrats have been pushing for for months.
“You don’t get everything you want, even if you’re the president of the United States,” Toomey told “Fox News Sunday,” urging Trump to sign the relief bill.
He added: “I think the COVID relief measures are really, really important. And, you know, in my state, as in many other states, we have governors who are closing down businesses again. People are out of work certainly through no fault of their own.”
Toomey suggested Trump sign the bill that includes up to $600 relief checks and then make the case to Congress for additional payments in a subsequent bill.
“Time’s running out,” Toomey said. “I understand the president would like to send bigger checks to everybody. ... I don’t agree with $2,000 checks to people who have had no lost income whatsoever, which is the vast majority of Americans. But the president’s free to make that case ― Democrats will agree with that ― and see where it ends up. But we’ve got a bill right now that his administration helped negotiate. I think we ought to get that done.”
Enhanced unemployment benefits for those affected by the pandemic expired the day after Christmas, and an eviction moratorium created to protect those struggling to make ends meet is set to expire at the end of the month.
If Trump refuses to sign the bill, Americans could be without COVID-19 relief until President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 21 and a new administration is installed. What’s more, the government could be thrust this week into another shutdown ― the third under the Trump presidency.
Asked if he’s worried about a potential shutdown, Toomey said he’s unsure but “hopeful” since Trump hasn’t explicitly said he’ll veto the bill.
“I understand he wants to be remembered for advocating for big checks,” Toomey said. “But the danger is he’ll be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior if he allows this to expire.”