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Trump signs Covid relief and spending package into law; Belize, Central American assistance intact

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Posted: Monday, December 28, 2020. 1:22 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: While still making “a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed,” U.S. President Donald Trump has belatedly signed into law a coronavirus relief and spending package bill, averting a partial government shutdown, the BBC reports.

Trump previously objected to annual aid money for other countries in the federal budget, arguing that those funds should instead go to struggling Americans. This included US$505 million for countries in Central America, including Belize, intended to tackle efforts at maintaining democracy and addressing the underlying issues causing thousands to attempt to migrate to the U.S. That money remains intact.

The COVID-19 relief package, approved by Congress, is worth US$900 billion but is part of a wider $2.3tn spending package that includes $1.4tn for normal federal government spending.

The delay in signing the bill cost millions temporarily lost unemployment benefits. Today, Monday, some government agencies would have had to close, unless legislators could pass a stopgap bill. About 14 million Americans faced a lapse in unemployment benefit payments and new stimulus cheques. Unemployment benefits will now be restored.

Legislators of both parties interceded with Trump, who had not participated in the negotiations over the bill, to sign it after caustic comments describing the package as a “disgrace” and full of “wasteful” items.

The bill includes a payment of $600 to Americans earning less than $75,000 a year. Mr Trump said he wanted Americans to receive $2,000 – but Republicans in Congress refused to agree to the change.

Trump, while still refusing to admit defeat, is scheduled to leave office on January 20 after Congress confirms his defeat in the Electoral College following November’s presidential election to Democratic Party rival Joe Biden.

The President-elect warned of devastating consequences if the bill were not signed and charged Trump with an “abdication of responsibility”.

“…millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority,” Biden said.

 

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